Reduction Of Food Loss And Carbon Emissions
A pilot study, funded by Carrier, has examined the extent to which the cold chain can help increase the quality, reach and profitability of kinnow, a citrus fruit rich in micronutrients…
A study has been conducted by the Indian School of Business under the direction of the National Center for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD) of India and Carrier Transicold India, and in collaboration with Balaji Kinnow, one of the largest aggregators in the Punjab region, and the first to use a Carrier pre-cooling system, which is designed for the rapid removal of heat from freshly harvested produce. This process is typically done before the produce is shipped to market or put into cold storage. The study was commissioned by Carrier, a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp., and released at Carrier’s World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Loss, held recently in Singapore.
This is an area of critical importance to India, which is the world’s second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, but accounts for just 1.5% of global produce exports due to losses of up to 20-50% of total production.
A cold chain can be simple yet effective
Demonstrating positive value for all stakeholders along the supply chain – growers, aggregators, transporters, distributors and retailers – the pilot study corrects misperceptions that the cold chain requires a complex setup from farm to retail, dependence on other stakeholders to invest along the supply chain, and a high cost of investment. The study also provides a general framework for aggregators and distributors to analyze profitability for any crop when using the cold chain.
“The cold chain, simply put, serves as a cross-geographical bridge between a rural source and distant concentrations of consumption. The cold chain is a modern agri-logistics system that is transformational in its impact and key to bringing about the next agricultural revolution. We look forward to many more, similar pilots to demonstrate the wide-reaching advantages of the cold chain,” said Pawanexh Kohli, Chief Advisor and CEO, NCCD.
Besides the economic value, the study also compared the carbon footprint of the kinnow supply chain with and without refrigeration, and determined that the cold chain can have a net decrease in overall carbon footprint – when compared with the carbon emissions of kinnow that is lost or wasted.
Expanding reach and profits
The study measured the effects of cold storage and refrigerated transport from Abohar, in northern India to Bangalore, in southern India, a roughly 2,500 km (1,600 mi) overland journey that is a four- to five-day drive by truck. This allowed for ample analysis of the time- and distance-related aspects of cold chain investment. Unlike other fruits, kinnow is available only for three to four months a year, is highly perishable and is grown primarily in a few districts of Punjab. To keep spoilage to a minimum, kinnow is best kept at 4- to 5-degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 85- to 90%. Increasing yield and acreage has meant that production is too large for the local market, but there are challenges in distribution to markets that are further away.
“The small percentage of kinnow that is exported to other domestic and international markets is often transported in open trucks, with cumulative losses as high as 32%. Many markets in India and abroad have never enjoyed a flavorful, nutritious kinnow. The challenge is to convince all the stakeholders that the cold chain is a smart investment with a relatively short payback period,” said Pankaj Mehta, Managing Director, Carrier Transicold India, in announcing the results at the World Cold Chain Summit.
The study demonstrated that the payback for pre-cooling equipment is only about two years, while for refrigerated trucks it is just over four years. Government incentives, which were not included in the study, would only further serve the attractiveness of the investment.
“This project reinforces government commitment to setting up a cold chain infrastructure for local growers. The cold chain is new technology for growers. After looking at the potential for this technology, the government has already announced subsidies related to the cold chain,” said Jaspal Bhatti, Government Representative, Citrus State Abohar.
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