How PEF can contribute to a more sustainable food system

Food industries are under constant pressure to develop more efficient processing technologies. Climate change and growing populations are motivating factors for minimizing food wastage, sustainable developments in preservation, nutrient security, and food safety for future sustainable food production. One such technology is PEF – pulsed electric field.

The problem with our current food production system

Methods for producing food have dramatically improved over the years. We are more efficient than ever. However, to transition to a more sustainable system more development is needed.

So, what is the problem?

45% ~ of all the world’s fruits and vegetables grown are thrown away annually. About a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption each year – about 1.3 billion tonnes – becomes waste.

Nearly 30% of the world’s agricultural land – 1.4 billion hectares (!) Is used to grow products that are never consumed.

Yet, we have people in the world that do not have enough food. If only 1/4 of the food thrown away globally were to be saved, that would be enough for 870 million people.

If that’s not argument enough, food losses and food waste are estimated at approximately € 680 billion in industrialized countries and € 310 billion in developing countries.


Waste from food makes up around 8% of the global greenhouse gases to which humans have contributed.

The food sector accounts for around 30% of the world’s total energy consumption.

Food Waste
Food Waste - 45% ~ of all the world's fruits and vegetables grown are thrown away annually.

How do we build a sustainable food system?

Sustainable food systems refer to the practices and policies that aim to produce and distribute food in a way that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

The topic is complex, and there are many different strategies and approaches being developed and implemented to achieve a more sustainable food system.

One technology alone, like PEF, can not solve all problems but can contribute significantly and make a real difference. Let’s have a closer look on how pulsed electric field treatment can contribute to a more sustainable food production system.

PEF - Contributing To Dematerialization, more from less

History has shown us that it is technological development that is the path moving forward. Technology and primary the type that contributes to dematerialization – the ability to extract more from less/the same amount of raw material. More efficient extraction processes also mean less pollution and emissions.

Dematerialization is defined as:

Dematerialization is defined as the reduction of the quantities of materials needed to serve an economic function, or the decline over time in the mass of materials used in industrial end products (Wernick et al., 1996 as cited in Kibert et al., 2002).

PEF technology fulfills significant needs for sustainable food processing as requires fewer resources to produce quantities of existing foods.

Learn more: PEF for food processing ->

The sustainable (and economical) benefits of PEF


PEF technology indirectly contributes to improved raw material extraction. The benefits can be seen in the manufacturing process, where more can be extracted from the same / less amount of raw material – dematerialization.


OptiCept’s PEF Technology (Called CEPT) direct and primary impact occurs during the manufacturing process. By applying our technology, the process is streamlined, and a shorter processing time means less energy consumption. We also enable increased extraction from the same / less raw material.


By extending the shelf-life, less frequent transports are required. It is then also possible to choose means of transport with less environmental impact.


The gentle treatment with pulsed electric fields (PEF) means that more vitamins, antioxidants, and other important nutrients are retained. In the end, a much healthier product and also improved taste, color, and aroma.


By optimizing OptiCept’s PEF technology, we naturally reduce waste and wastage. Extended shelf-life is of course also a contributing factor.

PEF - Pulsed Electric Field Application
PEF System

How PEF technology can contribute to a more sustainable food system

PEF (pulsed electric field) treatment has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system in several ways.

Firstly, PEF is a non-thermal preservation technique that can extend the shelf life of food products, reducing food waste and loss. By keeping food fresh for longer, PEF can help reduce the need for energy-intensive refrigeration and transportation.

Secondly, PEF can be used as an alternative to traditional thermal pasteurization or chemical treatments, which can reduce the carbon footprint of food production. PEF treatment generates less heat than traditional pasteurization methods, so it is less energy-intensive and results in fewer emissions.

Thirdly, PEF is able to inactivate microorganisms, enzymes, and viruses, so it could help to reduce the use of chemical preservatives and antibiotics in food production, which is beneficial for the environment and public health.

Lastly, PEF treatment can also be used to extract functional ingredients from food such as proteins, antioxidants, and fibers, so it can also contribute to a more sustainable food system by creating new value-added products and by-products from food waste.

It’s worth noting that the impact of PEF on sustainability may depend on the specific application and the way it’s implemented.

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