Energy efficiency in cold supply chains of the food sector: An exploration of conditions and perceptions
Temperature-controlled cold supply chains (CSCs) are essential to ensure the availability of high-quality food products all year round. Cooling and freezing account for approximately 30 % of the electricity consumption in the food sector alone. Improving energy efficiency could therefore make a substantial contribution to achieving climate neutrality in this sector. Many analyses of energy efficiency seek to understand the adoption of energy efficiency measures (EEMs) in individual companies. Yet they hardly address the adoption of EEMs specifically in CSCs, in particular in the food sector. The novelty of this paper lies in analysing the conditions for and perceptions of energy efficiency along food CSCs. This also covers the implications of applying the theory on barriers to EEM in such chains. For this purpose, the paper combines the results of an interview study with 61 participants and a survey with 122 respondents from private sector organizations active in food CSCs in the European Union. It focuses on factors affecting the adoption of EEMs in CSCs, in particular a) the structure of food CSCs, b) non-energy benefits and c) behavioural and organizational aspects. The findings suggest that a) energy efficiency is more prevalent in individual companies than along entire CSCs, that b) non-energy related benefits seem relevant but are less perceived along CSCs and that c) the adoption of EEMs in CSCs is complex due to the structural, behavioural and organizational factors only present in multi-company settings such as CSCs. Linking these findings to the theory of barrier underlines that it is advisable to explicitly consider the inherent characteristics of CSCs when investigating barriers to energy efficiency and deriving implications for policy making thereof.