FDFood NewsMinimum Temperature Rise Can Cut Frozen Food Emissions
FDFood NewsMinimum Temperature Rise Can Cut Frozen Food Emissions
Food News

Minimum Temperature Rise Can Cut Frozen Food Emissions

“Frozen food standards have not been updated in almost a century, and they are long overdue for revision.”

– Maha AlQattan

Group chief sustainability officer

DP World

Most frozen food is transported and stored at -18°C (0°F), a standard that was set 93 years ago and has not changed since. Research now suggests that moving to -15°C (5°F) could make a significant environmental impact with no compromise on food safety or quality.

The experts, from the Paris-based International Institute of Refrigeration, the University of Birmingham, and London South Bank University, among others, found that the small change could:

  • Save 17.7 million metric tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent annual emissions of 3.8 million cars annually;
  • Create energy savings of around 25 terawatt-hours (TW/h), equivalent to 8.63% of the United Kingdom’s annual energy consumption; and
  • Cut costs in the supply chain by at least 5% and in some areas by up to 12%.

The research was supported by the leading global logistics firm and principal partner in COP28, DP World, which has set up an industry-wide coalition to explore the feasibility of this change, named Join the Move to -15°C. This coalition aims to redefine frozen food temperature standards to cut greenhouse gases, lower supply chain costs, and secure food resources for the world’s growing population.

The coalition has already been joined by organizations including: US-based AJC Group; AP Moller – Maersk (Maersk) of Denmark; Daikin of Japan; DP World; the Global Cold Chain Alliance; Switzerland’s Kuehne + Nagel International; US-based Lineage; Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) of Geneva; and Singapore-based Ocean Network Express (ONE).

“Frozen food standards have not been updated in almost a century, and they are long overdue for revision,” said Maha AlQattan, group chief sustainability officer at DP World. “A small temperature increase could have huge benefits but — however committed each individual organization is — the industry can only change what’s possible by working together. With this research and with our newly formed coalition, we aim to support collaboration across the industry to find viable ways to achieve the sector’s shared net-zero ambition by 2050.”

AlQattan added that the Move to -15°C coalition will bring the industry together to explore new, greener standards to help decarbonize the sector on a global scale. “Through this research, we can see how we can deploy accessible storage technologies in all markets to freeze food at sustainable temperatures while reducing food scarcity for vulnerable and developed communities.”

Food Security

Annually hundreds of millions of tons of food from blueberries to broccoli is transported around the world. While freezing food extends shelf life, it requires 2% to 3% more energy for every degree below zero that food is stored at. Yet demand for frozen food is increasing, as appetites evolve in developing countries and price-conscious consumers seek nutritious, tasty food at more affordable prices.

At the same time, experts estimate that 12% of food produced annually is wasted due to a lack of refrigerated and frozen logistics — the cold chain — highlighting a significant need for greater capacity. Studies also suggest that 1.3 billion tons of edible food is thrown away every year – one-third of global food production for human consumption.

“Cutting cold chain emissions and transforming how food is safely stored and moved today helps ensure we can keep sustainably feeding communities across the globe as populations and global temperatures rise, protecting nutritious food sources for years to come,” said Toby Peters, a professor at the University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University and director of the Center for Sustainable Cooling. “Building on this research, DP World’s coalition can be a key tool for overcoming today’s food challenges, too, providing a stable inventory of quality food for the 820 million starving people worldwide and security for another 2 billion who are struggling with food scarcity.”

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