A Conversation with Ray Pittard, President of Thermo King North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa
1. When did you first become aware of the impact of food waste?
Ray: As a company, our collective consciousness of food waste is deeply tied to Thermo King’s founding. Many may be unaware that Thermo King invented transport refrigeration in 1938 with a mission to safely transport perishable foods over longer distances to ultimately increase access to more communities, and at the same time, prevent food waste from spoilage during transport.
While our understanding of food waste and its global impact has significantly evolved over the decades, I’m proud of our leadership and employees who wholly embrace Thermo King’s role today in spearheading innovative solutions to reduce waste and improve access to healthy, perishable foods for communities in need.
2. Food is wasted at every step of the supply chain. What do you see as the most important step in tackling the global food-waste crisis?
Ray: In the United States alone, we waste nearly $200 billion a year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten. If we focus on just one step of the supply chain, I believe we’re missing the bigger picture that demands a collaborative approach across industries, nonprofits and government working together to address this growing global epidemic.
For example, Thermo King has more than 80 years of experience providing innovative solutions that have directly improved safety and efficiencies within the cold chain. With the launch of our social responsibility and sustainability program, We Move Food, we are expanding our reach beyond the cold chain to partner with nonprofit food banks and food recovery organizations. Our program bolsters their transport refrigeration capacities to enable these organizations to recover more food – healthy, nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste, and redirect it to the nearly 40 million Americans struggling with hunger.
These collaborations are powerful, and I hope it will inspire leaders across industries to think creatively and act urgently to reduce food waste and incorporate it as a way of doing business.