Mobile canning concept developed by Tata Steel to cut food losses

Tata Steel has developed a mobile canning line concept which, it claims, will allow farmers, anywhere in the world, to process and preserve their produce on-site, helping them to reduce food loss at source while generating additional revenues for farmers.

A third of all food production worldwide is lost or wasted before it even reaches consumers including postharvest handling, storage, processing, packaging and distribution stages, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Tata Steel claims that its mobile canning line will allow producers to establish a production line to make cans and fill them with fruit or vegetables on-site. This means crops can be preserved quickly before spoiling, reducing food loss.

The new concept will include two trucks, housing the canning line and food processing facilities, which will be able to move directly to any farm or field. Dstribution trucks will collect and deliver cans straight from the farm.

The process will make two-piece, drawn and redrawn (DRD) cans, which are easy to produce and very durable. Cans will also be made from Protact, a specialist laminated steel from Tata with a polymer coating. With Protact there is no need for lacquering, claims Tata, simplifying the can making process and presenting downsizing opportunities. 

Protact circular blanks will be fed directly into the canning line, housed in one of the two trucks, saving space and reducing scrap from steel sheets. 

Once created, Protact cans will be brought to the filling truck for processing. Fruit and vegetables will be sorted to ensure optimal quality and will then be washed, prepared, canned, seamed, sterilised, visually checked and labelled all in situ. Filled cans will then be loaded directly onto the trucks ready for distribution.  

According to Steven Dijkstra, head of marketing packaging and Nordics at Tata Steel in Europe, 44% of food harvested in India is lost before it reaches consumers because it cannot be packaged and preserved quickly enough.

“Tata Steel’s mobile canning line will allow farmers, even in the remotest of rural areas, to preserve their harvest, producing canned foods, ready for distribution on-site. In India alone, we have the potential to save 84Mt of food per year,” he said.

Tata's mobile canning and processing line is set to be in use within the next three years, and the company is currently in discussion with a number of interested parties across the world to bring the concept to life.