Work in the cold-storage industry presents many opportunities to review facts and figures about a commodity we thoroughly enjoy and absolutely need—food. The statistics often are interesting but sometimes very sobering. Consider this:
A staggering 40 percent of food produced in the United States goes uneaten. Totaling $165 billion worth of waste annually, that’s just in the USA alone, according to an August 2012 issue paper from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Worldwide, the waste comes to 1.3 billion tons per year, or one-third of all the food produced for human consumption, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
When you hear and read stories about human hunger around the globe (Feeding America reports that hunger is a struggle, too, for one in six people in the United States) and see pictures of starving children, these statistics truly are numbing.
When you think about food waste, you have to consider not only the value of the food, but also the unrecoverable time and significant expense of growing, processing, packaging, and ultimately—delivery to the marketplace.
Waste can happen at any point in the food-supply chain—from “farm to fork,” the NRDC report reminds us—and that includes cold transport and storage for highly perishable items. Professionally, it’s a serious reminder to all of us in the food industry to be on top of our game, to maintain our facilities and equipment very well, to constantly train our employees, to monitor closely the commodities entrusted to us, to follow industry rules and best practices, and to be extremely vigilant in safeguarding our food supply. Individually, these troubling statistics about food waste might give us pause to think about the sage advice from our elders: “Don’t let your eyes get too big for your stomach.”
column by BEN ADAMS
BIO: Ben Adams Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multi-temperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.