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Sustainability in the pack-house

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The world’s food production industry sits at a difficult crossroads. By 2050, the global population will likely increase by 35%, and food production will need to double in that timeframe. However, as our climate changes and resources become scarcer, the need to streamline the supply chain becomes more critical.

Our industry – including those of us here at Wyma – have a huge part to play in meeting these increasing demands. Our recent guide on Sustainability in Food Production outlined some of the big issues that face growers and pack-houses, and our team is always looking for new ways to tackle these challenges.

Dr. Kent Stewart, Product Development Manager at Wyma, recently spoke at the New Zealand Potato Industry Forum held by Potatoes NZ, the industry association representing the interests of our local industry. In his talk, Sustainable Food Production: Industry Pressures and Trends in the Pack-house, Kent examined how population growth will lead to increases in fertiliser consumption and demands on arable land and decreases in renewable freshwater resources.

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Action is needed, and pack-houses have a role to play. A potato pack-house can use up to 30 m3 of freshwater an hour, and while many pack-houses have limited water recycling solutions in place, many do not. Also troubling is that the water used often comes from natural sources and is released back into waterways after use, increasing sediment, nitrate and phosphate levels. Thankfully, pack-house solutions are constantly evolving, and improved solids removal capability and reduced water consumption are at the top of mind for Wyma’s designers and engineers.

Looking further into the issues facing pack-houses, Kent touched on the volume of food loss and waste – both at the growing/processing stage and the retail/consumer stage. More than a third of potatoes are lost before even reaching the consumer, with poor grading, handling and shelf-life all contributing to unnecessary wastage. Improving product handling and grading equipment and methods and increasing shelf-life can help to combat these challenges by ensuring produce reaches the customer in optimum condition every time.

While Kent and our research and development team continue to develop Wyma’s world-leading pack-house solutions, you can read more about our industry’s role in our most recent guide: Sustainability in Food Production.

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