Experts at Interpack 2014 Discuss Reducing Food Waste Along the Supply Chain
Sustainability is an important subject along every link of the food industry’s supply chain, and packaging is no exception. This year at Dusseldorf, Germany’s 2014 packaging trade fair, the second international SAVE FOOD Congress came together for two days to discuss ways to reduce food waste at various points along the value chain of the food industry. Reviewing case studies and best practices around the world, the congress hopes to harness packaging expertise and innovation to make food producers’ supply chains more efficient and free of loss.
First created as a joint venture between the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, the goal of the SAVE FOOD Congress is to bring industry leaders together to find mutually beneficial solutions to food waste problems – especially through the development of improved packaging technology.
Participants at this year’s conferenceturned to Kenyaas its main case study, examining food loss issues among the country’s fisheries and mango producers and assessing the results of better processing and packaging in order to preserve product and prevent loss. According to reports, improvements implemented through Kenya’s SAVE FOOD Mango Project could save the industry 30,000 tons of product annually which could be used for export to increase revenue substantially.
While the conference is still in its nascent stages, its early successes have already succeeded in highlighting the importance of attacking food loss issues from every angle including packaging and the supply chain.
“ The SAVE FOOD conference has clearly shown that we need to address the problem of food waste and losses at all levels of the food chain,”FAO Assistant Director-General Ren Wang told Pack World magazine. “We simply should not continue to waste and lose food that nobody eats. This is a non-productive use of scarce resources like energy, land, and water and contributes to climate change. Governments, the private sector, and civil society need to cooperate closely to develop better policies, and affordable and sustainable technological innovations, and promote behavior change to ensure that food is being consumed in a more efficient way.”
Tech firm BestBees helps honey bees with remote monitoring
The global honey industry was worth an estimated $9.2b in 2020. Out of the 100 crop species which feed 90% of the world's population, 70 of them are pollinated by bees. In addition, 1.4b farming jobs, depend on the pollination of crops carried out by bees.
Bees are vitally important to planet earth and everyone on it - but they are in danger. Between April 2019 and 2020, 43% of US hives were lost. Bee hives have been devastated by:
- Climate change
Tech firms have taken on one of the world’s oldest occupations, beekeeping, in order to maintain the welfare of the the mighty bumblebee.
Best Bees Company bumbles forward
US business, Best Bees Company, was shocked at the plight of the American bee colonies.
Best Bees install hives and then use an advanced software system to monitor and record the health of each bee hive.
"We are looking at why thriving beehives live", said Wilson-Rich, chief scientific officer at Best Bees. "We need to understand why they're doing better. With that research data we can get wonderful benefits... it is telling us how the bees are actually doing."
Best Bees also harvests and bottles the honey for the property owners, of where the hives sit, to enjoy.
The data is being shared with Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where researchers are trying to understand and assist the bees in their duty.
Tech saves beekeepers time and labour
The Irish business ApisProtect is also utilising technology to help the bees, through their wireless in-hive sensors, which transmit data.
"We collect temperature, humidity, sound and acceleration [of the bees flying out of the hive] data," said Fiona Edwards Murphy, chief executive "What we do is extract those raw data points and then use machine learning to convert that into useful information. We tell the beekeeper, for example, which hives are growing and which hives are shrinking, or which hives are alive and which hives are dead."
The technology means beekeepers no longer have to manually inspect hives, which saves time and effort and allows the bees to go about their business uninterrupted.
"In a commercial operation only about 20% of hives at any given time need intervention," concludes Edwards Murphy. "The problem is that beekeepers don't know which 20%. They literally go out and pick around a hive to see if it's the one they should be looking at. What we do is enable them to get a picture of what's happening in all their hives, spread across a large area, before they even leave their office in the morning. For commercial beekeepers, we see a 50% reduction in labour costs. That obviously has a huge impact on the business of beekeeping."