APFI Magazine Speaks To Neils Arbjerg, President Of Asia Pacific Region, Danfoss.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Globally, about 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year. Knowing this, how can companies ensure that its production line does not contribute to this number?

To ensure perishable food items are maintained at their optimum freshness, it is critical to ensure the right temperature is met to keep them cool and dry with advanced technologies in air conditioning while ensuring the energy costs and environmental impact is low.

Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are helping food production to monitor and maintain the quality and safety of our food. Data-driven sensors can promote food sustainability through temperature and energy condition-based monitoring, allowing automated or manual timely action for predictive and preventive measures, and thereby reducing potential food loss in the process. 

The pandemic caused massive disruption in the food system, particularly for supply chains. That said, has the pandemic created any opportunities for the food industry?

One of the trends is that food supply has moved closer to the consumers now. A good example is that in Singapore, the country is aiming to produce 30% of its food locally by 2030. More consumers are ordering groceries online in view of the pandemic thereby shortening and simplifying the food transportation cycle. Online deliveries now enable food to be delivered from cold storage directly to the consumers instead of having a stop at supermarket for displays and this changes the entire footprint.

This means two things:

(1) The convenience of online ordering and deliveries will lead to higher demand for fresher and safer food and

(2) direct deliveries from cold storage to consumers will significantly reduce food waste caused from extended time being displayed on showcases/shelves in supermarkets. We are also starting to see more examples of vertical farm owners and producers doing online selling directly to consumers to guarantee fresh vegetables.

The pandemic also clearly showed there is definitely a need for more efficient and effective cold chain management. Modern technologies are essential to enable the reduction of post-harvest food losses and to ensure the best conditions from farm to fork.

One success story is when the Indian banana farmers in Tamil Nadu faced the challenges of post-harvest loss of 30% in a country where there is an urgent need for food for 300 million people. With the implementation of cold chain technologies, this has led to a reduction of their post-harvest food losses by 20% and at the same time resulted in three times the higher value for the farmers. (The World’s Banana Giant is Awake)

Despite increasing awareness, food waste and sustainability is still an issue. What are some factors that attribute to this?

With pandemic now and witnessing people going through food scarcity and in some case even starvation, we definitely see an increased awareness on the topic of sustainability — it is a global trend. At the end of the day, we are still not moving the needle on the food waste as quickly as we should. The world population is growing and with the current amount of food produced, this is simply not enough. 

World Resources Institute and UNEP revealed that up to 24% of food waste is due to inadequate food storage and transport solutions (Eco-business, Danfoss: The sustainable business of cooling, 2016). Deep-diving into developing nations, Southeast Asia is one region that shows significant problem in food waste — the region accounts for 25% of the global’s total food waste (Foodcycler, A Complete Overview of the Food Waste Crisis in Southeast Asia, 2021). The issue lies between farms having limited pre-cooling facilities and insufficient post-harvest cooling methods, to refrigerated transport that is unable to maintain the right temperature requirements to keep the food fresh. 

We cannot produce food as how it was 10 years ago. Current situations have put a pressure of food industries on how food can be efficiently produced and delivered to consumers without compromising the environmental impact. This simply means that there is an urgent need to invest in cold chain technologies to keep up.

How does Danfoss maintain a high level vision on sustainability in the food industry?

We like to help the world to secure enough food on the table for everybody in the most sustainable way possible. We want to help the food industries to provide a safer and more secured food production while achieving decarbonization, and encouraging lesser waste on food, energy and water.

Sustainability has been part of Danfoss’ purpose since the company was founded. Our DNA and culture has been instrumental in building our leading position across multiple industries. It is our ambition to be the leading technology partner for our customers in the green transition — decarbonizing through energy efficiency, low emissions, and electrification. After all, the greenest energy is the energy that we don’t use.

We also give our full support and contribution to delivering on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Particularly the goals we are committed to that are relevant to food are: SDG 6 — Water and sanitation, SDG 7 — Affordable and sustainable energy, and SDG 12 — Responsible consumption and production.

We are continuing our high investments in innovation and R&D to ensure that we stay at the technology forefront and create more value for our customers. We have a specialized and unique focus on engineering technologies and solutions for use in all stages of the cold chain. 

What are some of the food processing priorities that Danfoss has identified?

Danfoss has a holistic view from farm to the fork at each step along the way to the consumers and we have the solutions in each of the stages in the entire cold chain to optimize production and reduce food waste. At the same time, we want to help food industries to decarbonize the entire supply chain by providing affordable green solutions. Our technologies can ensure food is kept at the right temperature, conditions are monitored and acted upon, and at the same time — help these food industries to reduce energy costs while meeting their sustainability goals.

Danfoss has been the front runner in CO2 and ammonia as refrigerant alternatives. We encourage the sustainable development and use of low-GWP refrigerants to minimize global warming while helping to ensure the continued green transition of energy systems and food chains from production to market along with the future viability of our industry.


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