Overarching principles:

responsibility, sustainability and energy efficiency along the temperature controlled supply chain

Food Safety

The European Union’s food safety policy aims to protect consumers, while guaranteeing the smooth operation of the single market. Dating from 2003, the policy centres on the concept of traceability both of inputs (e.g. animal feed) and of outputs (e.g. primary production, processing, storage, transport and retail sale).

The EU has agreed standards to ensure food hygiene, animal health and welfare, and plant health and to control contamination from external substances, such as pesticides. Rigorous checks are carried out at every stage, and imports (e.g. meat) from outside the EU are required to meet the same standards and go through the same checks as food produced within the EU.

What is meant by “a sustainable cold chain” and how does it reduce food loss?

A cold chain is a connected set of temperature-controlled facilities (primary production, food manufacturing facilities, cold stores, refrigerated transportation, etc.) that ensures perishable foods maintain their freshness and quality while in transit. Access to cold chain allows local producers to link with high-value markets locally, nationally and internationally. By enabling perishable food commodities to be stored and transported in a temperature-controlled environment not only ensures quality and safety, but reduces overall food loss, while improving economic gains and increasing sustainability.

From an environmental perspective, it is important that increasing demand for cold chain is sustainable with increased use of green fuels, energy efficiency and low or zero global warming potential technologies.

Food Waste

In the EU, an estimated 20% of the total food produced is lost or wasted, while 43 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day.
Globally, approximately a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted.

Food is lost or wasted along the whole food supply chain: on the farm, in processing and manufacture, in shops, in restaurants and canteens and in the home. The reasons for food waste vary widely and can be sector-specific.

Food loss and waste in industrialised countries are as high as in developing countries, but their distribution is different:

  • in developing countries, over 40% of food losses happen after harvest and during processing;
  • in industrialised countries, over 40% occurs at retail and consumer level.


Over time, the increased demand for temperature sensitive goods and the extension of shelf-life, has led to the development of diverse means of transport. This has been accompanied by technical developments designed to maintain unbroken cold chains. Transport refrigeration is by land, sea and air. Land transport being the most diverse comprise refrigerated semitrailers, containers rigid vehicles and small vans. Sea transport is now mainly refrigerated containers though entire refrigerated ships exist and significant numbers of fishing and fish processing vessels.

Air transport times are short and the temperature control rudimentary.

Over the past decade global container numbers have grown steadily as international transportation has increased between developing countries. Growth is predicted to continue given the desire to have foods available all year round which requires imports from abroad as fruit and vegetable crops depend on seasonal weather.