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National launch of the Cold Chain Benchmarking Tool

A new online tool aimed at tackling the serious shortcomings in the way chilled and frozen food is handled in Australia was launched in Perth on 27 February 2023.

The Benchmarking Tool will help all Australian businesses, no matter their size, to position themselves in world best practice compliance, and through a range of resources, help them to achieve compliance or ensure they stay compliant.

The launch was one of the highlights of the Turning the Dial event, a two-day exploration of technologies and policies to reduce food waste and  and encourage sustainability beyond an environmental lens. Turning the Dial was an initiative of the Western Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

As AFCCC chairman Mark Mitchell commented, 'It was quite refreshing to engage with the can-do approach from the Western Australian government teams, which have a strong cold chain focus.'

The Benchmarking Tool was developed and road tested by the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC ) in collaboration with the Australian Government's AusIndustry department.

The unique Benchmarking Tool enables all participants in the cold chain, from paddock to plate, to be measured against world’s best practice for handling food for human consumption.

AusIndustry and the AFCCC suggest that a long-term cold chain awareness, training and development program using this tool could be significant in reducing Australia's $36.6 billion a year food waste bill. Other benefits would be a reduction in the wastage of resources including land, water, energy and fuel while maintain food quality and safety, lifting brand value and profitability.

The pilot was acclaimed by industry experts as one of the best tools yet devised, and would encourage communication with food industry groups involved in the cold chain like never before. The Tool could be the most effective means of raising awareness among small to medium enterprises on how they can achieve cold chain improvements. 

Mark Mitchell said the Cold Chain Benchmarking Tool delivered a great deal more than a simple report on a company's status as a cold chain participant. 'After completing the cold chain Benchmarking Tool, the results will trigger a referral to a wide range of resources including training, scientific studies on food handling and cold chain food handling procedures and checklists. Participants will be guided to the support and resources that will help them improve their cold chain footprint,' Mr Mitchell said.

'Everybody wins with this easy-to-use online tool,' he added. 'By participating, every business will be creating a valuable report against which to measure themselves and assess areas for improvement. It’s a long-term resource that can only lead to continuing improvement in the way perishable food for human consumption is handled and potentially preserve shelf life.'

WA cold chain champions
Delegates at Turning the Dial event spent a day touring two cold chain show-case industries just south of Perth – Fruitico grapes and Ryan's meats. SEE THE COLD CHAIN IN ACTION

A break-through in Australian fishing industry cold chain process resources
A meeting in Perth provides AFCCC with an avenue to develop another key cold chain resource – guiding principles of fresh seafood transport in the Australian Cold Chain with specifications for each type of product. READ ABOUT IT

The Benchmarking Tool panel at Turning the Dial, from left: Brett Henderson – AusIndustry Entrepreneur's Program, Terry Burnage – WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Mark Mitchell – chairman Australian Food Cold Chain Council, and Greg Ryan – co-owner Ryan's Quality Meats, Perth.

Being photographed for posterity – Brett Henderson, Terry Burnage and Mark Mitchell jointly pressed the button to part the curtains and unveil the Benchmarking Tool – A pathway to a compliant Australian Cold Chain.



AFCCC delivers Australian cold chain overview

At the Turning the Dial event in Perth in February 2023, AFCCC chairman Mark Mitchell and director Adam Wade conducted two break-out sessions to provide an overview of the Australian cold chain and its optimisation.

Mark explained that new technology and systems are always at the forefront of the refrigeration industry and the cold chain, however proper implementation of existing first level technology is required to achieve compliant and optimised cold chains in Australia.

Adam's presentation was based on a real life case study for one of Australia's biggest dairy food companies, in which big dollars were saved, and fewer loads were taken to landfill by applying more collaborative processes throughout their cold chain, and making the participants in cold food transport more responsible for their equipment and the loads they carry.