Sustainable Food Cold Chains

Enough food is available annually for everyone on the planet, yet millions of people are starving all around the world. A lot of this can be blamed on food waste and loss. Around 14% of all food is lost before it even reaches a dinner table, and around 17% is wasted by the population. This has an effect on farmers’ revenue as well as the population who needs food to survive. One big cause of this is insufficient food cold chains, which is the ability to sustain fresh food from the farm all the way to the consumers. Produce and perishable foods must remain in cool temperatures through each step of their journey from the farm to the dinner table. The technologies that have the ability to preserve temperature controlled environments to keep foods fresh are often unsustainable.  

Fortunately, improvements are in progress. The first step towards improvement was taken in 1987, during the signing of the Montreal Protocol. Part of this protocol included working to phase out ozone-depleting substances. Under the Kigali Agreement, nations signed to commit to phasing out Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as well. The Kigali Agreement also addressed energy efficiency concerns. In 2019, the Rome Declaration called upon various governments and organizations to come together and create sustainable food cold chains. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) have come forward with ways this can be achieved. These include enhancing energy access for cooling throughout the cold chain, refining the capacity of certain cooling technologies and overhauling policies.