Slower ships pose chilled exports challenge
Chilled meat exporters face new challenges from changing regulatory environment.
Dr James Carson of the school of engineering at the University of Waikato says the shift to slow steaming for environmental and fuel economy reasons has lengthened journey times for New Zealand exports to key markets.
This means New Zealand’s lucrative European chilled meat market could be in jeopardy.
“We’re always looking for improved efficiencies to ensure New Zealand meat exports arrive at their destination in top condition,” Dr Carson says.
“Temperature is a key variable for quality and safety, so we need to look in detail at the impact of slow steaming on refrigeration parameters.
"Mathematical modelling of the chilling and storage processes can enable us to design for greater energy efficiency and tighter quality control.”
Dr Carson is heading to the UK in October on a fact-finding visit funded by the 2012 C Alma Baker Trust Fellowship, which facilitates travel between New Zealand and Britain for senior researchers in the fields of agriculture, agriculture-related technologies or the study of rural society.
He will be visiting research institutions in London, Bristol, Cambridge and Yorkshire to see the work being done there on refrigeration technology and hopes to bring back ideas that will benefit New Zealand meat exporters.
“New technology means shipping companies are now able to monitor and control individual shipping containers, so we could get a lot smarter in optimising conditions for our chilled meat exports,” he says.
Dr Carson is collaborating with AgResearch scientists from the former Meat Industry Research Institute of New Zealand on improving refrigeration techniques.