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Foodservice could reduce its carbon footprint by turning up the heat

Foodservice could reduce its carbon footprint by turning up the heat

A new report has highlighted the opportunity for the foodservice industry to reduce its carbon footprint, via identifying ‘cold chain’ energy saving opportunities of up to 15 per cent.

Supported by the Carbon Trust, the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) investigated the potential to reduce energy usage and CO² emissions by managing cold chain operating temperatures more effectively, where appropriate, without reducing food quality or food safety.

The Improving The Energy Efficiency of The Cold Chain report notes that some frozen food manufacturers, distributors and cold store operators often keep their cold stores at a lower temperature than is necessary* due to concerns that products will be exposed to warmer temperatures later in the supply chain.

Eight key opportunities to improve cold chain efficiency are identified in the report. For instance raising cold store air temperature and suction pressure control by about 6ºC would give energy savings of over 15 per cent. Similarly, if the evaporating temperature can be raised by 4ºC from -32 to -28ºC, a saving of about 11 per cent can be achieved.

The research examined cold store temperatures and refrigerant evaporating temperatures at participating manufacturers, distributors and cold store operators. These represented large, medium and small companies responsible for a wide range of frozen food products from poultry and seafood to vegetables and ice cream.

Brian Young, Director-General BFFF, commented: “The increase in green consumers, the onset of government regulation and the obvious benefits to profitability – mean that the time is right for the foodservice sector to review its energy use, with a view to reducing carbon emissions.

“The BFFF not only wanted to emphasise the importance of ‘cold chain’ energy savings and carbon reductions for frozen foods, but also to create cost saving opportunities for our foodservice membership. Together with the Carbon Trust, we believe this report is an important start to this process.”

The foodservice market

Data supplied by Horizons FS Ltd

  • Total frozen food purchases during 2008 within the foodservice sector were worth £2.32 billion
  • Frozen food purchases grew in the foodservice sector by 0.6% year-on-year between 2004 and 2008
  • In 2007 the number of foodservice outlets serving frozen food stood at 263,000
  • The number of frozen meals served by foodservice outlets grew 1.7% - to 8,726 million -between 2004 and 2007
  • The restaurant sector, including both full and quick service is by far the most important area for frozen food. One third of its total sales – equating to just under half of all frozen food sales – are in this sector
  • Growth for frozen food in the restaurant sector stood at 4.1% between 2004 and 2007
  • The pub, hotel and leisure sector have a combined growth of 3.7% (2004 to 2007) for frozen food usage
  • The contract catering and institution sector’s use of frozen food is currently in decline at a rate of 1.3% (2004 to 2007). 

A downloadable copy of the report and further educational information on frozen foods for the foodservice industry on can be found on BFFF’s website.

* Current European legislation requires companies to store, handle and transport products at a temperature of -18ºC or below. Every degree colder than -18ºC represents a significant carbon and energy cost.

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