Pilot Study Illustrates Value of Cold Chain for Produce

A pilot study involving a type of mandarin known as kinnow has found that investing in the cold chain can slash food loss by as much as 76 percent and cut carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 16 percent.

The study was funded by Carrier and carried out by the Indian School of Business. It explored how the cold chain can help enhance the quality and profitability of the nutrient-rich citrus fruit that is common in India and Pakistan. Despite being the second largest producer of vegetables and fruit on the planet, India makes up just 1.5 percent of produce exports because it loses as much as 50 percent of its total production.

The study clears up some common misperceptions about the cold chain, namely that it needs a complicated setup and a huge budget. In addition, it found that the cold chain can actually lead to a net decrease in the overall carbon footprint compared to the carbon emitted by kinnow that is wasted or gets lost.

Lots of Benefits, Few Risks

Researchers measured the effects of using refrigerated transport and cold storage on a 5-day, 1,600-mile journey. Kinnow is not available year-round; the highly perishable fruit is only available for around four months a year. The current open truck transport approach results in cumulative losses of as much as 32 percent. The study illustrated the gains that cold chain investment can provide, with the payback for refrigerated trucks being around four years and that of pre-cooling equipment being two years. Transporter profitability was estimated to be 23 percent.

Experts believe that government incentives would help make the proposition even more attractive. Carrier Transicold & Refrigerated Systems’ President, David Appel, pointed out that refrigeration is the best technology available for prolonging the shelf life of produce and it has no associated risks, which means it has the potential to reduce hunger and greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the efficiency of the cold chain and improving cross-border economic activity.

This blog post was based off of an article from The American Journal of Transportation. View the original here.