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Vietnam Cold Chain Summit reveals critical role of efficient cold chain

Having attended the summits held previously in London and Singapore, Mark said the Vietnam event was one of the best yet, with the speakers and presentations focussed on a solution approach for the cold chain in Vietnam.

While all the data revealed at the summit was informative, the most compelling presentation was delivered by Dr Shih-Hsun-Hsu from the National Taiwan University which showed that APEC nations lose 74.02% of food between production and consumption. Of that figure, 16.45% is lost in storage and handling, 29.20% is lost in processing and packing and 28.37% is lost in distribution. (See The top four commodity chart opposite)

Mr Julien Brun, a supply chain and operations expert from CEL Consulting in Vietnam, presented a detailed overview of food loss in Vietnam. He confirmed that farming and food supply employs 42% of the population and represents 18% of GDP, yet 32% of fruit and vegetables are lost. The loss rate of meat is 14% and fish12%.

From just handling and transport alone, the loss rate from fruit and vegetables is 6%, meat 2% and fish 2%. He also confirmed that the cold chain is involved in only 14% of the total food supply chain in Vietnam. 

These dramatic figures prove the major role the cold chain has to play in the total food supply and production puzzle.

Mr Nguyen Duc Loc from the Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Mr Dao The Anh from the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, presented very detailed analysis of food production by types and region in Vietnam, and outlined an array of challenges facing Vietnam in its plans to improve food supply.

They revealed that major issues were the lack of infrastructure, poor knowledge and expertise, and a reluctance of the private sector to invest.

These topics triggered a spirited dialogue during the panel discussions, and Mark Mitchell revealed that the Australian Food Cold Chain Council was facing some of these issues in a country like Australia which had a comparatively well developed cold chain.

Issues faced in the Philippines was the subject of another session chaired by Richard Tracy of the Global Cold Chain Alliance. It included a comprehensive presentation from Nichola Richards of the Philippines Cold Chain Project, an initiative sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture.

Mark told the gathering at the summit that all countries faced the challenge of bringing together the right combination of government and industry to form a cooperative partnership that could effectively implement an efficient cold chain.

An excellent summary of these issues was delivered by Gerald Cavalier of Tecnea-Cemafroid, an internationally recognised expert in cold chain and refrigeration, based in France. Mr Ngo Quang Trung from Emergent Cold Vietnam (formerly Swire Cold Chain Storage) summarised the key points from the transport and storage workshop.

At the workshop sessions, Mark Mitchell presented the virtues of taking product temperatures versus air temperature as a key solution to achieving a compliant cold chain in Vietnam.

Mark said Vietnam faced enormous challenges to develop a better cold chain, and although the summit covered a great deal more detail than mentioned in this report, he emphasised that Vietnam was not alone in this endeavour.

His four-word summary of the summit was ‘training, knowledge, investment and collaboration.’

Mr Julien Brun from CEL Consulting summarising the fruit and vegetables workshop

Mr Dao The Anh from the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Science

Mark Mitchell with cold chain expert Gerald Cavalier (centre), and NGO Quang Trung from Emergent Cold Vietnam

[Main page photo shows Mark Mitchell on the microphone, with noted US food loss expert Steve Finn looking on]


Dr Shih-Hsun-Hsu reveals APEC nations lose 74.02% of food between production and consumption

Mr Richard Tracy from Global Cold Chain Alliance speaking on the challenges in the Philippines

The transport and storage workshop in session with Mark Mitchell in the front row