Thanks to the support of the Danish Embassy in Chile, a virtual meeting was held between ChileCarne’s Sustainability Committee and the Danish Meat Research Institute (DMRI) on June 23 to learn more about the successful experience of Denmark in water management in food processing plants.
During his presentation on water use efficiency in slaughtering processes, Claus Mosby, Senior Specialist in meat technology, said that the main driver is cost savings: “If water is expensive and its price increases, of course you want to and should save water. One thing people often forget is that water is not just water; it is used, pumped, heated, and treated, and that represents a higher total cost than water just coming in and out,” he said. Another important point that the expert addressed was water scarcity, saying that the investment required is a driver of change.
In Mosby’s opinion, 40% of the plants’ savings has to do with a change in attitude: “it is important to train workers on this issue and make them part of the changes and achievements, as well as assigning a staff member exclusively to water management, to lead these efforts.”
Another lesson learned in Denmark is the importance of studying the industry and working together with all companies, “knowing what other companies do allows you to make timely decisions. It is important to analyze what changes in production would make it possible to save water. Monitoring is essential here. We tend to see that there are few water meters, and these are necessary in the different processes, or at least in those that use more water. We recommend remote readings, because sometimes meters are located far away,” he pointed out.
With regards to hygiene, he highlighted that it is extremely important. “It is clear that hygiene should not be played with since it carries over to the quality of the meat. Quality control staff must also be involved in the process of searching for viable alternatives to implement. Finally, it is fundamental to carry out these tasks together with the local health authority in order to consider the possibility of making current regulations more flexible and determine what changes can be made to the flows.”
According to Mosby, “I do not know how much water is currently being used in Chile, but the more water you use, the more options there are to implement simple changes to start this process. To move forward, it is important to have key figures that we can compare with Danish production and thus focus on the potential areas, technologies, and actions to reduce water use.”
At the end of the meeting, Daniela Álvarez, ChileCarne’s Sustainability Manager, said “this is a first step to start working in line with the Chile Conscious Origin Program (“Chile Origen Consciente”) that will allow us to have timely and high-quality information about our water management throughout the entire production chain, which is important to achieve the goal of positioning ourselves as a sustainable industry, both in Chile and abroad.”