Food Miles

on October 25, 2016

The term food miles is used to describe the time and distance that food has travelled from its production until it arrives with the consumer. The phrase originated in 1994 in a piece written by Angela Paxton who examined the damaging effects of long distance food transportation on the environment and state of food. The increasing levels of globalisation at this time, advances in technology and transportation as well as increased trade deals meant that there was now an effective and efficient pathway to distributing food worldwide. Many have argued that the increased distances that food travels from farm to plate will lead to catastrophic effects on the environment with greater journey lengths for planes, boats and vans. Though some point out that the largest release of dangerous emissions actually occurs during the production phase, meaning that it is more environmentally friendly to import lamb to the UK from New Zealand than it is to produce it inside the UK.


The term food miles is used to describe the time and distance that food has travelled from its production until it arrives with the consumer. The phrase originated in 1994 in a piece written by Angela Paxton who examined the damaging effects of long distance food transportation on the environment and state of food. The increasing levels of globalisation at this time, advances in technology and transportation as well as increased trade deals meant that there was now an effective and efficient pathway to distributing food worldwide. Many have argued that the increased distances that food travels from farm to plate will lead to catastrophic effects on the environment with greater journey lengths for planes, boats and vans. Though some point out that the largest release of dangerous emissions actually occurs during the production phase, meaning that it is more environmentally friendly to import lamb to the UK from New Zealand than it is to produce it inside the UK.

 

“The rise in food miles has led to increases in the environmental, social and economic burdens associated with transport”.

 

-Institute of Science in Society

 

While one side to the argument is to decrease the effects on the environment by increasing food miles, the flip side is that an ever more health conscious market are demanding fresher produce. While it may be more environmentally friendly to import food across large distances, consumers are searching for shorter times from production to consumption.

ParceLive tracks not just the location of shipments but also the condition

“Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people.”

 

The increase in food miles has also contributed to the amount of food that is wasted before getting to the consumer as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations notes that “Up to one third of all food is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. It is an excess in an age where almost a billion people go hungry, and represents a waste of the labour, water, energy, land and other inputs that went into producing that food.”

The United Nations also notes in a similar report that “Increasing emphasis on higher value farm products to meet the changing diets of urban consumers has focused renewed attention on post-harvest systems, while unacceptably high losses due to poor handling and lack of appropriate infrastructure have reduced economic benefits to small producers.”

 

“Post-harvest activities are an integral part of the food production system, and our aim is to promote best practices for post-harvest handling and management along the entire food supply chain”

 

The United Nations

Giving data across networks could help to reduce food waste

So what does logistics, the supply chain and Parcelive have to do with increasing the efficiency in which we produce and distribute food? Well, a lot. The UN describes squandered food in two ways; food lost and food wasted. Food lost being that which goes missing between production and consumer and food wasted being that which goes bad or is mishandled leading to damage. By adding the location tracking that Parcelive provides to shipments food companies can effectively combat food loss by getting back data on where in the supply chain these events are occurring.

Similarly the temperature readings that Parcelive sends back on the shipments it is in will allow food producers and distributors to make decisions based on hard data about where in the supply chain that damage is occurring to food and how best to combat this. Given this information the addition of Parcelive to food and other cold chain shipments could drastically decrease the amount of food squandered across the globe. If you would like to offer live parcel tracking as a service to your customers, please:

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Stephen HartnettFood Miles

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