Pilot food transport study reveals greater need for cool-chain transparency

Edwin Kalischnig, outgoing Secretary General of the CCA and CEO of Xtreme Technologies holds up one of the loggers used in the CCA pilot, Philippe Schuler, food waste campaigner with organisation Too Good To Go, Stavros Evangelakakis, Chairman CCA and Global Product Manager Healthcare and Perishables, Cargolux, Eric Mauroux, Director Verticals & Global Head of Perishable at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, and CCA Treasurer, Xavier Ripoll, Director of Marketing, Able Freight, Andrea Gruber, Head-Special Cargo, International Air Cargo Association (IATA), Vijay Nallamilli, General Manager, Able Freight Mexico.

A recent pilot study tracking the quality of temperature-sensitive food on a long-haul flight found that 40% of food transported around the world — via air, ocean and landrequires refrigeration and 20% of food loss is caused by a breakdown in the cool chain, according to officials for food waste tracking app Too Good To Go, which identifies users who can buy leftover food from retailers. 

The preliminary results of the pilot project were shared yesterday at Europe’s Cool Chain Association’s (CCA) Perishables Conference, held in Fresh Park Venlo, in the Netherlands. 

In the study, five pallets of berries and avocados were monitored on their journey from Guadalajara, Mexico, to their final destination in Kuwait, using devices called “loggers” powered by near field communication (NFC), a short-range wireless connectivity standardThree NFC loggers were placed in an aircraft lowerdeck to measure the temperature at the top, bottom, and in the middle of each consignment. 

Partners for the pilot included Cargolux, Able Freight, Air France-KLM, SmartCAE and Xtreme Technologies.  

“This has never been done before,” said Edwin Kalischnig, CEO of Xtreme Technologies, which provided the NFC loggers used in the pilot. “Once we identify gaps, we can look at where we can improve, and that is how change happens.” 

Philippe Schuler of Too Good to Go presented preliminary findings of the project with Kalischnig at the conference, adding that any temperature movements, including excursions, revealed by the pilot data will be analyzed by the various partners. “If you have the common objective of reducing food waste, you can achieve it, but we are not transparent across the cool chain and accountability is a problem,” Schuler said. “The CCA project is a starting point, and as we get more data, we will be able to be more scientific and look to develop best practices and solutions,” Schuler said. 

Schuler and Kalischnig suggested data collected during the program could be analyzed in the context of a metric called “degree-hours,” which takes temperature and time into consideration to give an absolute figure against which consignments on a given journey can be measured. 

“This opens up a new way of working, where we are not pinpointing the excursion, but looking at the journey as a whole and developing solutions,” said Eric Mauroux, director of verticals and global head of perishables at Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo. 

 Andrea Gruber, head of special cargo for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also spoke to the conference delegates about IATA’s new industry certification — CEIV Fresh  adding that IATA was looking forward to continuing to get feedback from the project. “We have due diligence as an industry to make sure we can improve on reducing product loss in the cool supply chain,” she said.  

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