Cool Chain Association members have piloted a new scheme aimed at improving the supply chain and addressing food waste, by sharing temperature data from perishable consignments moving from Latin America to the Middle East.

Five pallets of berries and avocados were monitored from Guadalajara, in Mexico, to delivery in Kuwait, using loggers powered by secure Near Field Communication technology. Partners for the pilot included Cargolux, Able Freight, AirFrance KLM, SmartCAE and Xtreme Technologies.

“This has never been done before,” said Edwin Kalischnig, outgoing Secretary General of the CCA and CEO of Xtreme Technologies. “Once we identify gaps, we can look at where we can improve, and that is how change happens.”

Temperature excursions, revealed by the pilot data will be analysed by Philippe Schuler, food waste campaigner with Too Good To Go, a free smartphone app which enables users to buy leftover food at the end of the day from retailers.

Preliminary findings were presented at the CCA’s Perishables Conference on May 14. “40% of the food transported around the world [air, ocean, land] needs refrigeration and 20% of food loss is caused by a breakdown in the cool chain,” said Schuler. Data transparency is the way to develop best practices and solutions, he said, adding the need for accountability.

Three NFC loggers were placed in an aircraft lower deck pallet during last week’s pilot scheme to measure the temperature at the top, bottom, and in the middle of each consignment. Schuler and Kalischnig suggested data collected during the program could be analysed in the context of a metric called Degree-Hours, which takes temperature and time into consideration.

“This opens up a new way of working, where we are not pinpointing the excursion, but looking at the journey as a whole and developing solutions,” said Eric Mauroux, Director Verticals & Global Head of Perishable at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, and CCA Treasurer.

“When we talk about data sharing, often people approach it from the angle of transparency. In fact, it is also having an understanding that data creates value and it is up to each part of the cool chain to understand the value it brings to them. That could mean developing an adapted offer, or complying, or introducing traceability or increasing shelf life, for example,” he said.

Said IATA’s Head-Special Cargo, Andrea Gruber, concluded that the CCA’s project is a good example of bringing everyone involved in perishable business together to find solutions. “To ensure transparency, a change of mindset is needed for all of us. Let us all be very honest and not hypocritical as an industry so that we can work towards improvements and reliable partnerships,” she said.