This is the fourth post in a five-part series on food safety throughout the month of September.
Cold chain management solutions provide oversight and increased visibility to help businesses be more efficient and keep food safe. They can also drive a broader impact and incite industry change, helping to address high stakes global issues:
- $990 billion in annual global food waste1
- $32 billion annual energy spend in global markets2
- $18.2 billion annual facility maintenance cost3
Think of the cold chain as the journey food takes as it moves from its original state throughout the process to end up in a consumer’s home. You may have heard the term “from farm to fork,” which applies here as we talk about maintaining freshness and food safety. The goal is to maintain consistent temperature control throughout the process, which means that freshness is monitored and verified from point to point along the chain.
The cold chain is a complex system with multiple parties responsible and many steps from start to finish – and it gets even more complicated with regulations like the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Retailers are investing more in fresh foods in order to keep up with increasing competition, drive sales growth and protect their brands. Supermarkets are focusing on fresh foods around the perimeter of their stores. Small format retailers, like convenience stores, are introducing new foodservice offerings. Food quality and safety in stores can be maintained through IoT enabled insights with remote monitoring and management services.
Before the food makes it to the retailer, it is shipped through various transportation means. Connected devices used in refrigerated cargo containers and trucks allow real-time product and temperature monitoring during transport of fresh foods.
Currently, a significant amount of data is being collected throughout the cold chain process – in harvest, processing, transportation, distribution and at the retailer – but that data may be sitting separately at each point and is not following the food to the next step; the data is captured but not shared.
This process has traditionally been fragmented, but connected solutions are enabling holistic insights and end-to-end food quality. By moving the data collected at each point into a cloud-based system, it can continue to be captured, stored and analyzed throughout the cold chain process, providing improved insights for more effective operations and informed food quality reporting.
Because of complex questions about data ownership and historic management of this data within specific applications, the insights and benefits to be gained from this data remain largely unrealized. However, it’s not difficult to envision a near-term future where retailers and others are able to take advantage of a fully connected cold chain solution. That could include utilizing data to validate food safety and potentially creating competitive advantages by authenticating their fresh foods story.
Emerson has been a longtime leader in cold chain management, serving the global container shipping and food retail industries. Recently expanding our capabilities with investments in cargo solutions through the acquisitions of Locus Traxx and Paksense, Emerson is now able to better provide consistent information and enhanced safe control of food and other temperature-sensitive goods throughout the entire supply chain.
Look for the next post in this series, which will dive deeper into food safety through transportation solutions.
For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.
Group Vice President, Electronics & Solutions
(1) Source: Food and Agricultural Waste Organization of the United Nations: http://www.fao.org/statistics/en/
(2-3) Estimates based on various sources of public data
To read all posts in our series on food safety for retailers, click on the links below:
- Food Safety Remains a Top Priority for Retail Businesses
- Prevent Food Safety Issues with Remote Monitoring Services
- How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Impact Food Retailers?
- Food Safety Throughout the Cold Chain “From Farm to Fork”