The source, a frozen and chilled foods firm md who wished to remain anonymous, made his comments to FoodManufacture.co.uk after reading our recent story on a chilled foods market report produced by research firm Key Note.
“If UK consumers were better informed … chilled foods would account for a lower proportion of UK food sales and the food industry’s impact on the environment would be greatly reduced,” he said.
But Kaarin Goodburn MBE, director and secretary general of the CFA, said in response that different foods are sold in chilled, frozen and ambient categories, and thus described the “broad comparison” between them as “spurious”.
For instance, frozen and ambient salads and sandwiches did not exist, she said.
Poor plant utilisation?
Goodburn added: “Wastage in chilled food production is tightly controlled through just-in-time ingredient sourcing, manufacture and distribution.”
The source also criticised poor utilisation of plant, equipment, transport and power due to “large fluctuations in the short notice daily order volumes, i.e. Monday volumes vs. Friday volumes”.
But Goodburn said that chilled food manufacturers have long accommodated volume fluctuations, producing only what is required and, therefore, only using the resources mentioned when necessary.
“The chilled food sector has, according to Climate Change Agreement data used by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), reduced its carbon intensity by more than 22% since 1999,” she said.
Chilled food manufacturers suffered due to cancelled orders (leading to unwanted disposal of goods), while the sector's green credentials were also suspect, the source maintained.
He pointed to retail disposals due to poor instore sales, merchandising and forecasting, as well as consumers throwing away large amounts of out-of-date chilled food.
However, Goodburn said that chilled food manufacturing waste volumes were “small and declining”.
She cited CFA data showing a 40% reduction in the past three years in terms of waste per tonne of final product, with nearly 85% of manufacturer’s food waste diverted away from landfill.
“Regarding consumer disposal of foods, WRAP research has found that the highest rates of consumer food wastage are in bakery products and fresh produce, not chilled prepared foods,” she added.
Another criticism levelled at chilled prepared foods by the source was a “disproportionate” use of packaging as well as undue logistics waste.
“Millions of additional foods miles, and increased traffic congestion because the goods must be delivered daily to every retailers network of chilled depots, often in half-empty trucks with just a few cases on a pallet,” he said.
But Goodburn said that packaging was only used as required, while manufacturers and retailers had both invested heavily in lightweight non-oil based packaging and recyclability.
She added that the chilled prepared food sector has a “well-established, sophisticated logistics network run in tandem between manufacturers and retailers to ensure quick, efficient cost-effective delivery”.
“Contrary to the assertion made lorries are not circulating the country "half empty" since backhauling [where goods are collected from dispatch points shortly after deliveries are made] is widely used,” Goodburn said.