Bright-red strawberries for breakfast while the snow falls outside. Creamy avocado slices in our lunchtime salads, no matter what month shows on the calendar. Even summer squash has the audacity to make an appearance the other three seasons, as well. With an abundance of the brightest and freshest produce 365 days a year, Americans take their menus for granted.
Constant access to fresh food is not the case in many other countries, even technology-centric ones such as India. But companies like Emerson are working to make an impact.
India is the world’s leading producer of milk and the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Yet nearly 20 percent of that abundance—about $10 billion worth of food—is wasted each year. That’s because India lacks a crucial component that exists behind the scenes in the United States and other countries: a comprehensive cold storage supply chain.
Modern food systems rely on an interconnected system of high-tech facilities and transport vehicles—also known as a “cold chain.” A cold chain’s network includes ripening chambers that delay and then trigger ripening; long-term cold storage warehouses capable of preserving produce for weeks or months; refrigerated trucks and cargo ships; and coolers that keep food in grocery stores properly chilled.
Currently, only 4 percent of fresh produce transported in India uses the cold chain. The rest must be delivered locally and eaten quickly—or go to waste. Meanwhile, the United Nations predicts that India will be the world’s most populous country by 2050. The need for a modern-food supply infrastructure to keep food fresh from farm to table could not be more critical.
India has already established a National Centre for Cold Chain Development as a resource for strategic development and training of the country’s cold chain stakeholders. The country is working to address this serious problem as its population continues to grow, but it has a large task at hand.
That’s where strong partnerships, with technology and HVAC/R experts like Emerson, come in.
“The policies of the Indian government are bringing investments from international players, international experience, international design and international technology into this market,” said Abel Gnanakumar, Emerson’s vice president of refrigeration in Asia. “We are leveraging our global experience to help India address a critical food safety and quality issue.”
India has unique challenges due to its location and dense population. Many parts of the country experience weather extremes, so cooling technologies use more energy than in milder climates. Power outages are also a frequent occurrence, driving cold storage facilities to use costly backup generators. These obstacles make energy efficiency a key consideration.
Emerson makes Copeland Scroll compressors that are designed specifically for refrigeration, to help address these challenges and significantly reduce energy consumption. Compressors are a critical, energy-intensive technology in chilling and freezing.
The company has made a longer-term commitment to India’s refrigeration needs, as well. Emerson has a cold chain and distribution center in Chakan, Pune. The center, about 90 miles east of Mumbai, helps cold chain operators and contractors to build the most technologically advanced, reliable and efficient cold rooms possible. It also helps them maintain them at optimal cost and energy levels.
The cold chain largely exists behind the scenes and isn’t top-of-mind for most, but Emerson’s work in India will have a ripple effect for vast numbers of people as the country continues to serve a growing population.
“We are trying to build from the foundation,” Gnanakumar said. “The major item that India is trying to tackle in terms of reducing food losses is developing an overarching strategy for cold chain and food transportation. When that comes into place, everything will start to develop.”