Post-harvest losses worldwide are estimated at around one third of the actual food production. The estimates give 30% losses for cereals; 50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables; 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy; and 35% losses for fish. Such statistics always have bold impacts to the food industry, as well as its consumers.
The analytics from the tech solutions below can provide the kitchen an important insight on what foosd are moving fast, and what produce needs to be disposed of soonest.
These percentages have not changed much for decades, although the percentages of losses vary from country to country according to their level of economic development. For developing countries, the losses mainly occur during post-harvest and processing. With developed countries, the losses occur at retail and consumer levels.
With the earth’s population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, these food losses are alarming and companies worldwide have been developing solutions to address food losses.
From Harvest to Market
Studies have always focused on how to harvest properly, in a quick and orderly manner, where the produce is kept as fresh as it was on the tree. This has resulted in methods where produce are boxed at the field whenever possible. Still, these boxes have to reach the market or the commercial kitchen. There is still a lot of available improvements in the processes and in monitoring them from the farm until they reach the consumer.
Some foods have to travel long distances via shipping containers to get to their destination. BluWrap is a tech solution which extends the fresh meat and fish shelf life by reducing oxygen inside shipping containers. It uses fuel cells and built-in sensors in maintaining a consistent ambient atmosphere throughout the transportation process. This extends the freshness and can also help to reach new markets.
Another solution is BT9 Xsense® which is a real-time chain management system that monitors food products from the producer to the store. Users can use the information to help maximize the product quality.
Edipeel has a different approach for post-harvest protection. Developed by Apeel Sciences, Edipeel comes from all-natural plant extracts processed by recycling agricultural by-products. It acts as a protective barrier against transpiration, oxidation, and microbes, for freshness that keeps food from spoilage longer.
Leafy Green Machine™, the food tech solution by Freight Farms, is not new but has a different take on food and farming. The technology assures 365 days of harvest per year even in different and challenging climate conditions. The Machine resides inside a shipping container, and includes a climate-controlled closed-system hydroponic farming. It also has the Farmhand Connect app which lets growers track the climate conditions inside the Machine. Humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide, plant nutrients, and pH levels are monitored and optimized for best efficiency, maximized production, and minimized waste products.
An alternative solution for conventional refrigeration is Wakati, which uses hydration in preserving food during transport. One liter of water per week with the help of solar energy, and the Wakati system keeps fresh produce hydrated. This allows farmers and other producers in warm climates to safely store their products on the farm as well as during transit.
Shelf-Life Monitoring and Storage Solutions
In developed countries, the biggest losses are in the retail and consumer levels. While there are several smart solutions for the home, these usually monitor the food inside the refrigerator and advise the consumer on what food are nearing spoilage. This is usually achieved with the use of a smart refrigerator. Shelf-life monitoring, as well as storage solutions, are also being placed on a large scale in supermarkets. The solutions do not require a smart appliance, as the containers and plastics are usually the solutions themselves.
One piece of technology new to the market makes use of a natural oxidation process for refrigerated products. Called Bluapple, this is an ethylene absorber for refrigerators. Ethylene is naturally occurring gas emitted by various fruits and vegetables. Limiting this chemical helps to prolong the shelf life of produce by up to three times longer.
Another storage solution for grains and seeds is from the International Rice Research Center, located in the Philippines. Called the Super Bag, it is a hermetically sealed storage which reduces oxygen level to 5 percent, and significantly reduces the number of live insects without the use of insecticides. The Super Bag is also capable of maintaining consistent grain moisture, increasing germination life for stored seeds, from 6 to 12 months. As a grain storage, Super Bag improves head rice recovery during the milling process.
VTT Technical Research Center has developed smart packaging which has wireless sensors that detect ethanol accumulation in food packaging. It has a live data feed on a particular food’s freshness and overall quality, which it transmits to customers via RFID tags. The smart packaging products improve food product shelf-life, improve food quality from packaging to the shelf, and reduce the food wastage all throughout the transport as well as the retail.
In the Kitchen
The kitchen is not only a place where food is prepared – this is also where the products have to be keep at their best. As such, food management is essential to the success of a commercial kitchen. In addition, food spoilage has to be kept at a minimum. Lastly, proper planning and forecasting is also important.
The analytics from the tech solutions below can provide the kitchen an important insight on what foosd are moving fast, and what produce needs to be disposed of soonest. If items cannot be sold in the store, there has to be a way to sell these at a loss, or for others to benefit. Giving food to non-profit organizations can help these organizations in feeding those who have less.