Performing the function of the national energy accountant for the last two decades, we are often consulted by other agencies for energy data. We conduct various surveys and investigations to provide a better understanding and deep insights to energy related issues covering many sectors. We often collaborate with Department of Census and Statistics in these efforts.

A survey for the food industry - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Efficiency Potential in the Food Value Chain

Energy economics of the food value chain has a great impact on the energy demand of the country. Comprehensive studies are needed to assess the embedded energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy potential in selected food value chains.

We designed a study in collaboration with the Faculty of Livestock, Fisheries and Nutrition - Wayamba University, to quantify embedded energy from farm to plate for selected food value chains. The food value chain is comprised of different nodes, i.e. production, handling & storage, process & packaging, distribution & marketing, and consumption. Energy is accumulated in food items at all these nodes of the food value chain due to the usage of fossil fuel for different activities, which commences at the farm and ends at the plate. This energy is known as embedded energy. Food is wasted at each node of the value chain and results in energy wastage. The energy wastage through the food value chain should be reduced, in order to control the build-up of embedded energy in food items which survive up to the plate.

The Dambulla Economic Centre (DEC) is the focal point in fruits and vegetable value chain and crucial location, which handles the inflow and outflow of large volumes of fruits and vegetables in Sri Lanka, thus the study was designed based on this important node. In Sri Lanka, the major stakeholders in the fruit and vegetable value chains are small farms, home garden, cluster organizations / commercial farms, agro zone projects and integrated agriculture projects, village / central collecting centres and provincial wholesale markets.

 

The specific activities of the study were;

  • Estimation of food volumes in terms of inward bound, outward bound and waste generated including waste disposal, at the Dambulla Economic Centre
  • Quantification of embedded energy of the food value chain for selected fruit / vegetable / leafy items
  • Quantification of the total food wastage at the Dambulla Economic Centre through a sample segmentation approach
  • Trace the supply chain from point of origin (farm) to the final destination (household) and quantify waste generation and embedded energy
  • Estimation of energy impact in different packaging / preservation methods which can reduce food waste, in the perspective of reduced waste

 

The project was conducted for a period of 18 months from June 2015 to December 2016

This study has many benefits to us as well as the food industry. The main benefit obtained by us from this study is, quantifying the energy efficiency potential and renewable energy potential of the food value chain. The other benefits include, 

  • Building a grand alliance of players in the food industry
  • Reducing the energy impact of food
    • Large scale waste of input resources
    • Large scale generation of waste (energy resource)
  • Investigating the role of post-harvest technologies (with energy impact) on curtailing food waste, increasing food security and nutrition
  • Identification of energy interventions which can reduce the energy burden and ecological footprint
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