Feeding 9 Billion People: Increase Post-harvest Yield

The United Nations recently completed the first-ever global assessment the Earth’s land resources.  The assessment cited that a quarter of all land is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed – not stopped but reversed –  if the world’s growing population is to be fed.  (This article was published throughout the media, including here.)

American Public Media’s MarketPlace hosted by Kai Ryssdal is also running a series on this issue titled “Food for 9 Billion“.

Most of the World's Arable Land is Already Planted

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that farmers will have  to produce an astonishing 70 percent more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world’s expected 9 billion-strong population…that’s 1 billion tons more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200 million more tons of beef and other livestock.

The problem is that most arable land is already being farmed in ways that lead to erosion and the wasting of water – another increasingly limited resource. According to the FAO, that means that to meet the world’s future food needs, a major “sustainable intensification” of agricultural productivity on existing farmland will be necessary.

In addition to focusing on “sustainable intensification”, we can also invest in methods to increase the post-harvest yield of agricultural crops.  $35 billion in produce is lost annually in North America and Europe alone and half of that is due to poor temperature management. By improving the monitoring and management of the temperature of produce from the field to the retailer, we can bring more fresh, quality food to the table and do so without planting a single additional crop.  You can learn more about how this works by watching this on-demand webinar.  What’s more, the savings (and additional profits that result) essentially pay for the solution.  It’s a win for the producers, consumers and mother earth.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

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Poor Temperature Management Ruins Vaccines

An article in the San Mateo (California) Daily Journal earlier this month discusses a $50,000 fine levied against a Kaiser Foundation hospital in San Francisco for improperly storing vaccines below freezing temperatures, potentially weakening the inoculations and tuberculosis skin test solutions for up to 3,921 patients. As a result, several patients became sick and one died.

Has This Been Stored Properly?

The article cites a 2009 study by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) which found that vaccines were refrigerated at temperatures as low as minus eight degrees Celsius for a 32-month span rendering the vaccination status for nearly 4,000 patients either ineffective or unknown. According to the article, the hospital subsequently replaced the vaccine stock and installed a manual temperature monitoring system, according to its response to the CDPH.

Is a manual temperature monitoring system adequate when it comes to the effectiveness of vaccines and the safety of patients?

Often vaccines and medications are stored in refrigerators at nursing stations or various locations around a hospital or clinic, making monitoring or control challenging at best. I’ve heard stories about refrigerators left open to warm up or even people storing sodas and lunches in the same refrigerator with the pharmaceuticals.

Since cost-effective, automated systems that can monitor the temperature/condition of a product and provide automatic alerts are warnings are available on the market, it seems obvious that they should be implemented to help ensure patient safety.  Relying on manual systems will likely only lead to continued health issues and unacceptable risks.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

Cold Chain Distribution in London

Last week’s SMi Cold Chain Distribution conference in London focused heavily on the critical importance of monitoring and managing temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals throughout the supply chain.  Topics ranged from compliance, quality and risk management to data security and in-transit temperature monitoring.

One of my favorite session titles was Why should I blow my budget on a specialist courier?

The answer to that question is because they know how to handle precious and sensitive cargo.  Not all couriers can do that with the same level of precision and guarantee.  I learned that particular lesson the hard way when some of our materials got stuck in customs.

Intelleflex at SMi in London

As manufacturers and couriers are becoming increasingly dependent on temperature sensitive products and global logistics, it’s becoming increasingly important for the couriers and 3PLs to provide state-of-the-art value added services.  Visitors at the Intelleflex exhibit were excited to learn that there’s now a solution on the market that delivers the ability to access temperature and condition data about a product in-transit through the packaging without having to open or unseal the container.  There are multiple benefits to this approach.  First, actionable data obtained in-transit can be used to correct for potential excursions before they occur, potentially saving precious cargo and reducing the risk of wasting a vaccine or medicine.  Additionally, couriers can now provide a documented proof of quality, demonstrating that they have properly managed the shipment throughout transit – something that they can’t presently do with USB data loggers.

The challenges faced in Europe are the same as those faced in America and Asia-Pac: optimizing cold chain operations to improve profitability.  Actionable data about the condition of a product as it moves through the supply chain does just that. If you’d like a copy of the presentation that Peter Mehring delivered at the conference, please email me and I’ll send you a copy.

Happy holidays!

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing