Role of refrigeration in worldwide nutrition

The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) has published their sixth Informatory Note on Refrigeration and Food: The Role of Refrigeration in Worldwide Nutrition. It is an update of previous versions published by the IIR in November 1996 and June 2009.

The Informatory Note draws on the latest facts and figures from reputable organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations and the Global Cold Chain Alliance to demonstrate the role that efficient cold chains can play in countering global food security challenges.

According to the Note, about 46 per cent of total annual food production, representing 1.661m tonnes of food products, was supposed to benefit from refrigeration – this figure has factored deductions in various agricultural and post-harvest losses. However, less than half of this tonnage is refrigerated, resulting in a 13 per cent loss of overall food production. These food losses are more pronounced in developing countries, where the available refrigeration capacity is much lower than in developed countries. 

If the 475m tonnes of lost food could be saved through the deployment of efficient cold chains, the Note says, it could theoretically feed 950m people a year. Put in context, 821m people were classified as being undernourished in 2018.

With the aim of supporting efforts at national and international levels, the Note provides a series of recommendations to implement appropriate measures in order to fulfil global commitments.

The International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) is an independent intergovernmental science and technology-based organisation promoting refrigeration knowledge and associated technologies that improve quality of life in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner.

Available in both English and French versions, the Informatory Note can be purchased here. A free summary sheet that outlines the key issues identified is also available.

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