World Energy Efficiency Day, how does AKO optimise the cold chain and reduce ‘food loss’ and ‘food waste’ at a global level?

5 March 2021.Engineering, like so many other sectors, can and must collaborate in our society’s sustainable development. To this end, technological advances such as the cold chain and the automation of agricultural processes have helped produce more and more food with fewer energy and material resources since their introduction. However, the cold chain is never perfect, leading to what is known as ‘food loss’ and ‘food waste’. These two concepts refer to food products wasted at the production and distribution stages (‘food loss’), and those left unconsumed for different reasons at the retail and end stages (‘food waste’) such as stores, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, or our homes…

In 2011, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) released a study highlighting that up to 1/3 of the world’s food production is wasted every year. Since then, great endeavours have been made to lessen the problem, but it still persists. That is why the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects the increased interest and awareness of this issue and aims to reduce ‘food waste‘ by half by 2030, as well as reducing ‘food loss‘ in the rest of the supply chain to the maximum extent possible.

Two new indicators have been proposed the Food Loss Index (FLI) and the Food Waste Index (FWI)

Their application already indicates that 14% of food production is lost in the stages between post-harvest and retail, thus resulting in ‘food loss’.

On the other hand, ‘food waste’ occurs mainly due to three reasons:

  • Removal of fresh produce that is considered sub-optimal because its colour, shape and size are unacceptable for sale and ingestion.
  • Disposal of produce that is nearing the end of its lifetime and/or has lost colour and freshness due to deficient cold chain quality.
  • Food that is not used and deteriorates at the end stages of consumption, mainly in restaurants and our homes.

For the World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development and World Energy Efficiency Day, AKO would like to explain how one of our solutions allows us to optimise the management of the cold chain and thus minimise food waste.

Our connectivity solution to prevent losses and stock shrinkage

The AKODATA temperature and humidity monitor is a temperature and relative humidity data logger connected to the cloud with NB IoT technology, i.e., wireless. Its connectivity and small size facilitate the monitoring of both the quality of cold at post-harvest storage points (farms, agri-businesses) and retail points (supermarkets), and also the routes of refrigerated products during production, distribution and the last mile (the last stage of transport).

As regards the monitoring of refrigerated transport, AKO is developing a project together with Aliments Onyar,, which specialises in the production of fresh pasta, fresh pizzas, sauces, and vegetable pâtés, among other canned food products, using local, top-quality foodstuffs from organic farming. Namely, the use of AKODATA is enabling them to measure the lifetime loss of foodstuff during the logistics routes for distribution.

To illustrate this, the figures show the monitoring by AKODATA of a 4-hour incidence without refrigeration during the transport of three different foodstuffs (apples, pumpkins, and bananas), which was designed at a 2°C temperature. Lifetime loss indicators show that during the incidence day, all 3 products accelerated their lifetime loss by varying amounts (an equivalent of 7 days for apples and bananas, and only 2 days for pumpkins).

Therefore, all products had an acceptable lifetime loss and were perfectly preserved after the incidence, thus avoiding becoming ‘food losses’, as it would have been the case without the AKODATA system for calculating lifetime losses.

One of our main objectives at AKO is to contribute with efficient and sustainable solutions to achieve lower incidences of ‘food loss’ and ‘food waste’, leading to a more efficient use of the fruits of the earth, as well as water, which would positively impact the global challenges we are facing, such as families’ food security and climate change.