• 23Dec

    29th, 30th and 31st March 2010, Selwyn College, Cambridge UK

    The IIR conference has registered a total of nearly 90 papers from over 20 different countries. Up to 150 people are expected to attend in this gathering which will focus on developments in the cold chain and the latest in refrigeration and air conditioning sustainability.

    To give you a flavour of the range of topics, these cover performance of display cabinets, HFO refrigerants, temperature monitoring, recirculated air curtains, meat cooling, storage and transportation, carbon dioxide applications, reducing energy consumption in transport, cold storage energy use, insulation, ground source heat exchangers, adsporption cycles, micro cooling, solar cooling, electric field during freezing, air cycle, vascular perfusion, packaging and food quality, thermal insulation, super-cooled storage, cryogenic refrigerated transport, dynamic simulation, thermal conductivity of frozen foods, vacuum freeze-drying, time temperature integrators, laminar flow heat exchangers and reducing waste.

    I am coordinating the workshop “Temperature control and energy efficiency in the cold chain”

    The workshop starts with an introduction to the cold chain concept and its relation to energy efficiency. This course will cover:
    • Innovative energy efficient systems in industrial food processing by David Pearson, Star Refrigeration, UK.
    • Temperature control and energy efficiency in cold storage by Prof Don Cleland, Massey University, New Zealand.
    • Mobile refrigeration including types of system, thermal performance, benchmarks and quality by Dr Silvia Estrada-Flores, Food Chain Intelligence, Australia.
    • Retail refrigeration including temperature variability, performance benchmarks, energy saving features by Judith Evans, London South Bank University and R&DT, UK.
    • Domestic refrigeration including temperature variability, benchmarking performance, microbiology and energy saving by Stephen James, the Grimsby Institute, UK.

    The workshop will run from 9:30 to 12:30 on 31st March. I hope you include this event in your 2010 calendar!

    For more information, click here.

  • 01Jul

    The International Institute of Refrigeration released a paper discussing the role of refrigeration in food safety and security.The statistics presented are of interest to all those concerned about food security. Given the nature of statistics, different sources present slightly different estimates. For example:

    -The world’s population is currently 6.77 billion people. The IIR paper says that by 2050 the world’s population is likely to reach 9.15 billion, but other reputable sources indicate that the population may be as low as 7.4 billion or as high as 10.6 billion, with the average being 8.9 billion.

    -According to FAO, one sixth of the world’s population (or about 1 billion) is currently undernourished. The IIR paper presents a slightly more optimistic view. In either case, we are already late to reach the goal of reducing by half the number of undernourished people by2015,set in the World Food Summit in 1996.

    -Food losses are estimated to range from 10 to 28% worldwide. In particular, losses of fruit and vegetables are placed between 15% and 40%. However, an ACIAR project on shelf-life extension for leafy greens in China measured losses for these products, showing that in some cases losses can exceed 50%. The extent of losses was mostly related to transportation distances from farm to market, seasonality, handling and storage practices.

    The consumer link is not tackled in the IIR paper. Yet, losses in the consumer side are likely to be much higher than those occurring during the commercial supply chain. For example, available Australian figures suggest that food wastage at households ranges between 20-25%, mainly due to poor purchasing and storage practices (Hamilton, C., Denniss, R., and Baker, D. Wasteful consumption in Australia. Discussion Paper Number 77. March 05. The Australia Institute). In comparison, average losses from farm to retail in developing countries are about 10%.

    The IIR figures indicate that about 360 million tonnes of food are lost annually due to insufficient refrigeration worldwide. It is tempting to assume that this is a problem in developing countries only. However, the refrigerated capacity in Australia seems to be insufficient to cater for primary producers in some regions. Lack of precooling facilities was an issue raised in the study: Northern Territory Tropical Fruits Industry –Market Opportunities (Hudson Howells report to RIRDC, July 2004). Similarly, shortages of refrigeration trucks in peak harvest season have been reported in recent years.

    The IIR makes a strong point: food security requires a holistic solution encompassing the production of foods and the reduction of post-harvest losses across the supply chain, right through to the consumer. Gone are the days where food security meant increasing production and ignoring the distribution and use of foods.

    The entire IIR paper can be found here.