Sep 9th, 2021
10 mins

With an ever-increasing need to improve the Sustainability in the food supply chain we know many members are focusing on how they can improve their business model in this area.

The Federation is currently supporting two research projects.

The first is by Professor Judith Evans and Professor Toby Peters in investigating the challenges of meeting the 2050 net zero within the cold chain.

The second is being led by a group called the Energy Conscious Organisation in looking at people’s behaviour once a business switches to renewable energy.

Below is a brief summary from each of the projects:

1. The 2050 net zero carbon challenge

The cold-chain is the backbone of our local and global food networks. Conventional cold-chains for food are energy intensive and use refrigerants (which often have high GWPs). How food is delivered has major implications for, rural economies, the food and drinks industry, social well-being, climate change, food security, energy security, and urban air quality. The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and the food sector is predicted to increase due to population growth.

London South Bank University, University of Birmingham, Heriot Watt University and Cranfield University are working together to provide a comprehensive evidence driven set of road maps for the UK food cold chain (chilled and frozen) to be able to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. The work will assess future cold chain emissions from cooling based on business as usual and identify routes the cold chain can follow to become zero carbon by 2050. The work will encompass both technical and non-technical aspects of decarbonisation.

Ultimately a coordinated strategy will be developed to accelerate the transition to a resilient, decarbonised food cold-chain (chilled and frozen) in the UK. The aim is to develop and deliver a clear industry-led pathway to achieve the UK’s net zero 2050 target whilst maintaining food security and affordability for UK consumers and economic opportunity for the UK food industry. This will be the first detailed road map that will enable the food cold chain industry to identify opportunities to reduce emissions. It will also highlight opportunities and approaches that will enable the UK food industry to remain and become more competitive and provide potential new business opportunities to new actors in the food cold chain. The project will

(i) update and add to current information on energy usage and CO2e emissions from the cold chain;

(ii) assess cooling (chilling and freezing) needs of fresh produce according to their physiological requirements, to maintain quality and safety across the supply chain;

(iii) evaluate future cold-chain and cooling energy consumption demands (from both a technical and non-technical perspective) and the impact on UK energy consumption and peak electricity demand;

(iv) explore through a systems approach how to use (and mitigate), make, store, move, manage, finance and regulate cooling demand through the cold-chain; and

(v) determine areas of intervention considering available energy and thermal resources, emission targets and other commitments as well as costs.

The work will specifically identify how sustainability of the cold-chain system can be increased by taking the following integrated four measures: 1) Reduce: Reducing the need for cooling, ensuring optimal conditions for food in the UK supply chain; 2) Shift: Transitioning to more sustainable technologies and working fluids and taking different approaches to cooling as well as novel energy sources including free, thermal to thermal, waste heat and cold; 3) Improve: Enhance equipment and operation efficiency; and 4) Aggregate: Examine synergies within the cold-chain to better integrate different cooling demands into a single system and enhance thermal symbiosis of cooling systems with heating and other available energy vectors. The analysis will be undertaken from a societal, technical, operational, and economic perspective.

The team involved in the work are keen to connect with industry and so if you are interested in the work and would like to discuss how to become involved, please contact:

Professor Judith Evans:, or

Professor Toby Peters:


2. The Energy Conscious Organisation – Research project

Having launched the Energy Conscious Organisation – EnCO – project in conjunction with the Energy Institute in 2019, the Energy Services and Technology Association – ESTA, feels that now is the right time to move forward with an important new research project to further validate the energy savings likely to be achieved by a holistic behaviour change programme. Working with Cranfield University and the University of East Anglia and focusing on the food and drink sector in the UK, the aim of the research is to support the claims of practitioners who have been running behaviour change related energy efficiency programmes for many years of the potential savings that can be achieved. The view of many experts is that savings of up to 50% can be achieved through behaviour change to match the 50% savings from the technological solutions. Whilst an Internationally recognised protocol of measurement and verification has generally been used to support the figures cited it is agreed that robust academic research should provide additional evidence.

The research programme, that will last for three years is being supported by a number of Trade and professional bodies in the UK. It is intended that all interested parties in the project will be supplied with project outcomes and ongoing information throughout the project.

More details about the training and certification programme can be found at

If any member would like more information, then please contact Siobhan. or connect the project leads directly.




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