by Liz White, UT/ editor
India wastes over 5 million tonnes of food a year, or about 30 percent of its production. This is because the availability of cold storage facilities in India is "dramatically small still," said Joe Brash managing director of Kingspan Insulated Panels for Central Europe, Middle East and India.
The 'cold chain' connecting farmers to their markets is almost non-existent. India, with a population of 1200 million, has a cold-store market comparable in size to that in Germany, where the population is only 81.5 million.
But the chain, "will not grow quickly without government regulation and intervention…I think the PU lobby and Kingspan…are important to push that regulation," Brash added, in a presentation during the PU TECH 2011 event in Greater Noida.
The market in India for PlR (polyisocyanurate) panels will grow massively, as a more affluent population wants better quality and variety of products, Brash said. Solutions are available to deal with food waste, both in terms of better storage, via insulated cooling facilities, and better transport using refrigerated lorries. He feels the Indian government must provide incentives for investors at every level.
And if this is done, then within five years the market for cold store panels could be 3·4 times as big as it is today, Brash commented.
Discussing the need for lobbying in a separate interview, Brash said this is time consuming, and the association needs a full time lobbyist to promote PU panels, especially since the mineral fibre lobby is very strong.
Cold storage for only 2% of food
Analysing the cold chain in India, Brash said that in western countries, food comes into houses via a fairly complicated cold chain, involving packing, precooling, refrigerated transport and cold storage. In Europe, 90 percent of food goes through packaging and cold-storage, while in India, this figure is 2 percent.
India also has a big gap in the middle of this chain, which jumps straight from the farm to the market in many cases, said Brash.
As a result, India's many farmers can often only produce seasonal products, with the seasonality dictated by the lack of storage.
When farmers can put products into store, they can extend the selling period, Brash explained. If carrots are only available for two weeks, this causes a glut, which is when prices for the farmer are the lowest possible. If carrots can be stored, everyone benefits. Fresh produce is available for longer periods and the farmer gets better returns, he said.
Panels offer advantages
The three big benefits of PU panels are
• Thermal performance;
• Fire resistance, where that of Kingspan's isophenic foam (IPN) is equivalent to that of mineral fibre; and
• Speed of build.
Comparing the thermal performance of building materials, Bras noted that the U value (insulation performance of a PU panel is eight times higher than that of traditional brick systems. A 45-mm thick PU panel gives the same insulation performance as 90 mm of mineral wool, 280 mm of softwood,760 mm of concrete blocks or 1720 mm of brick.
In a case study in
India of an office building, Kingspan calculated a 9-percent energy saving, which, if extended to cold stores, would save 15 percent, Brash said.
But of course in India, Brash said, the main competing construction material is brick, which is "very, very cheap, with panels costing 2·3 time as much." Since brick is inefficient as insulation, the panel sector has to get across the advantages of PU, given this cost differential. "Industry must put this message to government," Brash emphasised.