The annual global perishable conference, held in Luxembourg last month, called air cargo industry stakeholders to look within and immediately implement the minimum standards in perishable transport.

The air cargo industry should drive its own standard for perishables, without waiting for other groups and agencies to establish them. Is the air cargo industry stakeholders ready to roll out minimum standards for perishable transport? This question was asked loud and clear at the annual global perishable conference, held last month in Luxembourg, organised by the Cool Chain Association (CCA) in partnership with The STAT Trade Times.

Stavros Evangelakakis, chairman of CCA and global product manager healthcare and perishables, Cargolux, said that a lack of accountability is contributing to the 1.3 billion metric tonnes of food being wasted along the supply chain every year, equating to one third of all food produced.
Speaking at the event, which had the theme of ‘World without food waste – what can air cargo deliver?’, Evangelakakis said, “Collaboration, transparency, and data sharing, as well as training for perishables growers and better facilities are needed to inject quality into a fragmented and disconnected supply chain.”

Goy Grosbusch, Manager, New Activities, Grosbusch addresses the delegates

Goy Grosbusch, Manager, New Activities, Grosbusch addresses the delegates

“We should aim for quality, we should not wait for other agencies to come up with standards, we should look internally and act now. A standard in perishables should be something akin to the standards in pharmaceuticals, and over the next two years as Chairman (of CCA) I am going to push for that,” he told the delegates.

The information needed for the supply chain to improve is already there, said keynote speaker Philippe Schuler, Food Waste Prevention Consultant and a researcher in perishable cool chains for CCA. CCA had commissioned Schuler to undertake a “farm to fork” study of papayas from Brazil to Europe, looking into the waste in perishable logistics.

“The information needs to be made accessible. When we all start to have access to the data, we can start to solve the problems,” Schuler said while making his keynote presentation.
Cool chain decision makers from across the worldwide supply chain were also told the industry was stuck in a multi-stakeholder model, with no shared communication. “Instead of pointing at each other, we should collaborate,” said Frank Van Gelder, Founder, Mediconed Consultancy. “There is a way out, and it is not that far away. Let’s make quality visible through data,” Van Gelder added.
Jeremy Knops, Director of Operations, COLEACP said the task sometimes felt huge, but collaboration could drive change.

“Supply chain is only part of the issue when it comes to food waste. By showing more producers practical examples, working with leaders, for example, from the transport industry, we can make a very positive impact,” Knops said.

The Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee or COLEACP is a civil society organisation established in 1973 whose main purpose is to support the development of a sustainable and competitive agriculture and agribusiness.

Delegates at the first day of CCA Global Perishable Conference

Delegates at the first day of CCA Global Perishable Conference

“The key word is to look for partnerships, this has to be a joint effort, not only because of the waste, but because of the potential for agriculture to go one way or another.”

The conference included discussions on shipper’s expectations, disruptive food supply changes, fresh food from Asia and berries from the Americas, Africa, and various parts of Europe, as well as a visit to Grosbusch, Luxembourg’s leading fruit and vegetable importer and distributer
The family-run company has recently launched a scheme called Grosbusch Kids, giving schoolchildren an opportunity to visit their 18,000 sqm warehouse and learn about fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We believe in the basics of our business, of course, but there is more than that,” said René Grosbusch, Chief Executive Officer, Grosbusch. “Our growers aren’t able to educate the children, and the supermarkets can’t, so we do. We can be part of the change. In this business, if the right people come together I believe we can make a change.”

The conference was supported by Cargolux, the Luxembourg-headquartered all cargo carrier; Luxair Cargo; Lux Airport and Luxembourg’s Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure.