Cold chain workshop 920
Roadshow participants in Nanjing.

University of Birmingham clean cold experts are joining their Chinese counterparts to explore how industry and academia can work together to create sustainable ways of storing and transporting perishable food without further heating up the planet.

The UK-China Cold Chain Roadshow will see experts gather at workshops in Nanjing and Guangzhou to discuss cold generation, cold storage, transportation and logistics, utilisation, new business models and regulation/policy.

Showcasing technologies and research in the cold chain sector, the roadshow will create a new UK-China network for knowledge exchange and research/development collaborations. This will boost the growth of the cold chain sector in both countries and internationally.

China and UK collaboration will bring together novel ways to produce and store cold including harnessing renewables waste heat and cold and ICT integration & big data and whole system design, as well existing logistics infrastructure and operational expertise.

The roadshow is led by Professors Yulong Ding and Toby Peters, from the University of Birmingham, with Professors Xiaosong Zhang and Ruhe Xie respectively from Southeast University in Nanjing and Guangzhou University.

It visits Nanjing from 4 to 6 March and Guangzhou from 6 to 8 March and the events are sponsored by the UK FCO Global Partnerships Fund, UK Department of International Trade, Chinese Ministry of Education Engineering Research Centre for Low Carbon Building Environmental Equipment and Energy-Saving Systems and Nanjing Jinhe Energy Co Ltd.

Addressing the opening of the roadshow in Nanjing, Mr Tony Clemson, Deputy Consul-General at the British Consulate-General Shanghai, commented: “The UK and China share a strategic vision in creating clean, low carbon and sustainable economic growth. A clean and efficient cold chain system will be fundamental for decarbonising our economic development, and the timing is perfect for our two countries to strengthen our collaboration in this important area.

“Led by the University of Birmingham, all the participating UK universities, Heriot Watt, Hull and Imperial College possess world-leading expertise in clean cold technology. I wish the workshops and the roadshow great success. Together with our Chinese counterparts, we look forward to continuing our support for clean cold technology development in our two countries.”

Professor Yulong Ding, Director of Birmingham Energy Storage Centre, commented: “Cold chain technologies research is one of the most important topics at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Energy Storage. 

“There is huge potential for productive collaboration between universities and industry – illustrated by Birmingham’s recent work with CRRC Shijiazhuang to develop the world’s first shipping container using materials that store and release cold energy.” 

Professor Toby Peters, Professor in Cold Economy at Birmingham, commented “Cooling is a huge problem faced by fast-growing economies. Without it, supplies of food, medicine and even data break down; life in many parts of the world would be scarcely tolerable without air conditioning. The challenge is how to deliver it cleanly and sustainably, so we can tackle the challenge of feeding growing populations without causing environmental or societal damage.”

The ‘cold chain’ is an integrated and seamless network of refrigerated and temperature-controlled pack houses, distribution hubs and vehicles used to maintain the safety, quality and quantity of food, while moving it swiftly from farm gates to consumption centres.

Professor Xiaosong Zhang, from Southeast University commented: “China has an incomplete and often broken cold chain, leading to a large amount of loss in perishable foods. The broken cold chain also threatens safe medical supply, particularly vaccines. 

“We are pleased that the Nanjing Workshop have attracted over 120 participants, providing a great opportunity to showcase and discuss technological collaborations, investment and trade between UK and China.

“Cold chain plays a key role in ensuring the food safety, stabilising the market price of agricultural products, and enhancing the earning power of farmers. It has now become a national priority.” Added Professor Ruhe Xie of Guangzhou University.”

The rate of perishable food passing through cold chain transport in China is estimated at less than 20%; in stark contrast to more than 90% in the UK and USA. Currently China can lose up to 30% of some food types through post-harvest losses. The total volume of food lost is estimated to be equivalent to the production of 10 million hectares of land, and with an estimated value of 300 billion RMB annually. 

Over 170 people registered for the two workshops. UK participants include industrial representatives from Dearman Engine Ltd, Sure Chill Ltd, Flexible Power Systems Ltd, Cranswick Country Foods, Park Vale Capital Ltd and Optrak Distribution Software Ltd. 

Senior representatives from the British Consulate-General Shanghai and British Consulate-General Guangzhou and UK Depart of Internal Trade also participated in the events, along with experts from Herriot Watt University, Imperial College London and University of Hull,.

Chinese industrial participants include: CRRC, Jingdong, China International Marine Containers Group, Shenzhen Energy Group, Shanghai Chuanshi Group, Gree Electric, Nanjing Jinhe Energy Materials Co-Ltd, China Institution of Refrigeration, China Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association, Jiangsu food group, Meituan/, Xinsheng Natural Gas, CHEARI, Nanjing Tianjia, Donper Electrical, Food Valley Group, Shanghai Exfresh Logistics Technology, High Hope Cold Chain, Orient international group, Guangzhou Railway Factory, Hainan Yangpu Distributed Energy, Guangzhou Dinghan Railway Transit Vehicle Equipment, and Guangdong Food Cold Chain Logistics Industry Technology Innovation Alliance. Experts from over 30 Chinese Universities and research institutes are also taking part.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The history of collaboration between China and the University of Birmingham dates back almost to the foundation of the University in 1901. The China Institute was created to reflect the University’s extensive academic activities its colleagues undertake in China.