Creating an umbroken, temperature controlled cold chain is a $US150 billion opportunity, according to a study by Boston Consulting.

Stop Food Waste chief operating officer, Mark Barthel, said It is an opportunity in need of immediate attention as there is a perfect storm facing the world’s food system.

The situation is even worse locally because Australia does not have the expertise to fix the problem.

Speaking at CCN Live, Barthel said over the next 10 years food demand will increase 50 per cent while demand for energy will rise 50 per cent and water 30 per cent.

Combine this with rising climate risk, a growing population and middle class, increasing levels of urbanisation and the need to alleviate food poverty, and it is the perfect storm.

If global food waste was a country it would be spending $1.8 trillion a year and using 25 per cent of all water used in agriculture while utilising a land mass the size of China to grow food that gets wasted.

“The environmental impact of this country is significant as it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world behind the United States and China,” he said.

The good news is that Australia is currently working to halve food waste by 2030.

Australia wastes 7.6 million tonnes of food annually at a cost of $37 billion.

“This amount of food waste could fill the Melbourne cricket ground nine times over and this is at a time when demand for food relief increased 47 per cent in 2020,” Barthel said.

“An Expert Group study found that $43 billion worth of food in Australia is reliant on the cold chain to reach the dinner table. But right now 25 per cent of fresh food and vegetables are wasted.

“The good news is that for every $1 invested in food waste we get $14 back that’s a significant return although the figure is a bit lower in Australia where every dollar invested gets seven to 10 dollars back.”

Barthel said it is important to create chain of custody information to understand why faults and breakdowns occur in transit.  For example, a mango grown in Katherine will travel 3,500km and pass through 14 logistical partners before it arrives in Melbourne.

“That’s a lot of opportunity for problems so there needs to be a good flow of information,” he said.

“There is an emerging range of technologies to help us such as sensor technologies, AI, machine learning; these tools are starting to be used at scale in Australia.

“Temperature monitoring to track time, temperature and location is important along with heat transfer and air flow. We need to get the basics right and that means regular calibration of equipment.”

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