The last century has witnessed the global population quadruple, in 1915 there was an estimated populace of 1.8 billion, at present, according to an estimate by the United Nations, there are just over 7 billion people with predictions of reaching 9.7 billion by 2050. This growth, together with increasing income levels in developing countries (which have an impact on dietary changes such as consuming increased amounts of protein and meat) are driving up the global food demand.
The cold chain plays a vital role in our daily lives, ensuring the demand created by an increasing population is met by good quality food, however, due to ineffective management systems, among other things, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes, goes to waste. In order to increase efficiencies and decrease wastage advances in technology are progressively supporting the cold chain in countering these ever-present challenges.
Over the past few decades, disruptors and innovators alike have engaged technology to re imagine life as we know it, changing the way supply chains work through the evolution of, and accessibility to, the latest advancements in technology. Transactions are now easier, access to information is faster and the efficiency and convenience technology continues to offer cannot be understated.
Technology’s impact on the cold chain industry continues to grow, from the implementation of temperature monitoring to the optimisation of stacking and selection, technology is changing the way this niche offering operates. Technology such as real-time tracking using GPS provides accurate temperature monitoring. Furthermore critical technologies and systems such as sensors and automation assist in gathering and analysing important data which informs customer solutions. An example is the deployment of temperature sensors, when positioned in trucks and in receiving and storage areas allow for constant visibility into the operations of the refrigerated systems and has a marked impact on quality control. The data collected via the sensors, allows for adjustments that minimise temperature variability, protecting products and dramatically decreasing energy bills. In addition, the system can predict when maintenance of the systems will be required thereby avoiding costly shutdowns, and mitigating the risk lost produce.
Delivering the freshest food in the safest manner and shortest time possible is a key requirement in meeting burgeoning consumer demand and enabling longer product shelf life. Technological advancements continue to make these objectives more attainable to the point where the challenge no longer lies in the availability of the right technology but rather in leveraging technology to bring efficiency and optimisation opportunities to support global food security.