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Improving Energy Efficiency in the Agro-food Chain

image of Improving Energy Efficiency in the Agro-food Chain

For a variety of reasons, energy use in the agro-food sector continues to rise, and in many countries, is highly dependent on fossil fuels, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore becoming urgent to consider how the food supply chain can improve its energy efficiency. This report analyses ways of improving energy use in the agro-food sector in relation to both producers and consumers, and puts forward a set of policy recommendations that governments can introduce to meet green growth objectives and achieve sustainable development.

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Cross-cutting measures to improve energy efficiency in the food chain

While agro-food chain businesses – e.g. farms, food processors, retailers, distributors – vary substantially in terms of their scale, capital availability, operations and technology used, all generally tend to rely on energy for machine operations, lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), water and waste management. This Chapter first discusses the role of consumers in improving energy use and efficiency of the food chain. It then considers a sample of energy efficiency measures which are generally applicable to all stages of the food chain – both relatively low-cost operational changes and more substantial measures which require further investment. It looks beyond energy conservation measures, to include waste and water reduction and waste-to-energy investments as potential “win-win” means to reduce food chain fossil fuel consumption and waste, in addition to GHG emissions.

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