Call for industry standards to cut perishables cool chain waste

21 / 06 / 2018

The air cargo community should drive its own standard for perishables logistics, without waiting for other groups and agencies to establish them, according to Stavros Evangelakakis, Cool Chain Association (CCA) chairman.

A lack of accountability is contributing to the 1.3bn tonnes of food being wasted along the supply chain every year, equating to one third of all food produced, delegates heard at the CCA’s “World Without Food Waste – what can air cargo deliver?” Conference in Luxembourg.

Collaboration, transparency, and data sharing, as well as training for perishables growers and better facilities are needed to inject quality into a fragmented and disconnected supply chain, speakers explained at the two-day event, which brought together cool chain industry leaders from around the globe.

"We should aim for quality, we should not wait for other agencies to come up with standards, we should look internally and act now," said Evangelakakis, who is also the global product manager healthcare & perishable at Cargolux, the European freighter operator.

He added: "A standard in perishables should be something akin to the standards in pharmaceuticals, and over the next two years as chairman I am going to push for that. Are you ready for collaboration?”

The information needed for the supply chain to improve is already there, said keynote speaker Philippe Schuler, food waste prevention consultant – CCA researcher in perishable cool chains.

CCA commissioned Schuler to undertake a “farm to fork” study of papayas from Brazil to Europe, looking into the waste in perishable logistics.

“The information needs to be made accessible,” said Schuler, adding: “When we all start to have access to the data, we can start to solve the problems."

Cool chain decision makers from across the worldwide supply chain were also told that the industry was stuck in a “multi-stakeholder model,” with no shared communication.

“Instead of pointing at each other, we should collaborate,” said Frank Van Gelder, Founder, Mediconed Consultancy, adding: “There is a way out, and it is not that far away - let's make quality visible through data.”

Jeremy Knops, director of operations at The Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), said the task sometimes felt huge, but collaboration could drive change.

Said Knops: “Supply chain is only part of the issue when it comes to food waste. By showing more producers practical examples, working with leaders, for example, from the transport industry, we can make a very positive impact.

“The key word is to look for partnerships, this has to be a joint effort, not only because of the waste, but because of the potential for agriculture to go one way or another.”

The conference included discussions on shipper’s expectations, disruptive food supply changes, fresh food from Asia and berries from the Americas, Africa, and various parts of Europe, as well as a visit to fruit and vegetable importer and distributer Grosbusch.

The family-run company has recently launched a scheme called Grosbusch Kids, giving schoolchildren an opportunity to visit their 18,000 sq m warehouse and learn about fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We believe in the basics of our business, of course, but there is more than that,” said chief executive René Grosbusch, adding: “Our growers aren’t able to educate the children, and the supermarkets can’t, so we do. We can be part of the change.

“In this business, if the right people come together I believe we can make a change.”

Schuler’s research, which is called “Papayas – studying waste in perishable logistics”, is available to CAA members.

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Pictured, left to right: Vijan Chetty, General Manager, Coastal, Perishable Products Export Control Board; Edwin Kalischnig, CEO, Xtreme Technologies B.V. and CCA Secretary General; Eric Mauroux, Director Verticals & Global Head of Perishables, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo and CCA Treasurer; Sebastiaan Scholte, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jan de Rijk Logistics; Stavros Evangelakakis, Global Product Manager Healthcare & Perishable, Cargolux Airlines and Chairman CCA; Fabrizio Iacobacci, Head of Pharma Business Development, BCube Air Cargo; Gerton Hulsman, Managing Director, Flughafen Düsseldorf Cargo GmbH; and Nathan de Valck, Cargo & Product Development Manager, Brussels Airport Company.