Cold Chain Fights Hunger

Global Cold Chain Alliance President J. William Hudson recently testified before the United Nations on the role logistics firms play in fighting hunger.

In his testimony, Hudson said, “While it is extremely important to improve crop genetics, expand the use of proper farming equipment and increase processing and worker productivity, these improvements will be wasted if we lose 30% to 60% of the products due to spoilage and damage before they get to the consumer. These post-harvest losses are even more significant when you consider the lost labor, water, seeds and fertilizer invested in the growing process.”

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He pointed out, “As we gather to discuss global food hunger, we would argue that the solution is not only to increase production, but to reduce the losses through proper post-harvest technologies. The cold chain is a solution to improving the livelihoods of people around the world by extending product shelf life as well as creating access to markets for higher value commodities.”

Citing the group's 118-year history, he said its members use their historical knowledge and many other resources—a bank of distinguished scientists, as well as the interest and expertise of corporate members—to partner with organizations such as USAID. “The purpose is to understand food distribution challenges in a country, educate and train local workers, build infrastructure, and maximize product delivery to market,” he said. “In other words, improve productivity, reduce spoilage and waste, and ultimately feed more people.”

Hudson added, “We are proud to have conducted cold chain development work with our partners in countries around the world, with our post-harvest training programs serving as a model for emerging markets. Our goal is to create a sustainable integrated cold chain in our target markets, and in doing so we invest energy and expertise into training, technology transfer, resource development, association building, stakeholder partnering and program evaluation. It is important to note that we represent more than 1,000 cold chain companies in 65 countries that are interested in building the global food infrastructure, and that our public-private partnership efforts facilitate the growth and success in developing countries. Our project work is a long-term investment in people and infrastructure, with public initiative and funding followed by private investment and development. A USTDA-funded cold chain training program in India is followed with a $240 million corporate investment in the cold chain; while a USAID food safety project in the Ukraine is followed by a major infrastructure investment into a cold store in Kiev,” he highlighted.

“A feasibility study in Moldova conducted by our industry experts resulted in a fully operational vegetable packhouse, and a USDA program allowed our industry to create the Philippines Cold Chain Association which is still going strong today, providing a voice for the industry in the island nation. By using a wide array of industry technical experts on our projects, we are able to better understand the unique needs and challenges of each marketplace, such that the investments that follow a project are well focused and practical.”

Speaking of the group's affiliation with USAID, he said, “Whatever the solution, our mission is long-term sustainability. It is this public-private approach that empowered our partnership with USAID in their Partnership for Food Industry Development program leading to measurable impact and success in Southern Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Through this program, more than 30 companies in the recipient countries received technical assistance and training from one of our member companies that volunteer their time and expertise. This has also led to sustainable business relationships with those countries and our members in the US that participated in the program. With this structure, concept and vision, our mission is to remain an important and valued partner in combating global hunger.” www.iarw.org

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