SEATTLE — A leading cause of food spoilage is poor refrigeration, especially in developing countries where up to 40 percent of food is wasted each year. As much as 50 percent of perishable food loss in developing countries is caused by spoilage during post-harvest transportation. Other factors that contribute to the immense food waste are poor harvesting practices, poor infrastructure, unreliable roads or electricity and unhelpful government systems.
Developed countries have combated this through the use of cold chain technology. Cold chains are temperature controlled supply chains of uninterrupted refrigeration to maintain desired low-temperature range, which keeps food as fresh as possible.
The lack of access to cold chain technology is one of the reasons food waste is so large in tropical areas. For example, even though India is the world’s top producer of bananas, it makes up a tiny fraction of the world’s market. Some of this gap is attributed to the lack of refrigeration and reliable energy sources to store the crop. By providing a better system of refrigeration, the food loss would be cut by 25 percent.
One refrigeration solution proposed came about with the development of ColdHub. ColdHub is a concept created to help the 470 million farmers in developing countries who don’t have access to reliable cold storage technology. This project could decrease food waste by 80 percent and increase farmer incomes by 25 percent.
The system itself is a walk-in, solar powered cold room that extends food life for up to 21 days. The fact that the cold chain technology is solar-powered rids the need for electricity and can, therefore, be used in areas where it is limited or unavailable altogether. The fresh produce is placed within reusable, plastic crates with a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius.
ColdHubs have been installed at marketplaces and farms that are within a reachable distance of consumers and retailers. Not only does this cold chain technology address the issue of inefficient storage, the social impact it creates leads to higher life sustainability.
A significant amount of deaths that occur in developing countries are due to poor nutrition in diets. These cold rooms create a larger availability of nutritious food options in rural areas. A target goal of the ColdHub company is to hire mostly women to work the stalls, as this would increase revenue and job sustainability in many low-income areas.
This new cold chain technology could establish a solution for reducing food waste in developing countries as well as increasing sustainable living and economic growth.
– Taylor Elgarten