Transporting Perishable Goods
Nowadays, markets and consumers are more demanding of quality services in all areas, including transportation or merchandise. Transporting goods is a complicated endeavor and more so when it comes to products that are sensitive, such as perishable goods.
Keeping fish or fruit from other countries in excellent condition for when they arrive to the consumer’s table is not an easy task. It requires a complex, quality system throughout the entire logistics process, from origin to the final point of distribution.
A perishable good is any product in which quality deteriorates due to environmental conditions through time, such as meat and meat by-products, fish and seafood, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, flowers, pharmaceutical products, and chemicals.
Due to their chemical and/or physiological characteristics, these products have short lifespans; they are more susceptible to severe and irreparable damage during transport, especially if temperature is not kept consistent. These products must be handled with the utmost caution and efficiency in order to preserve them and keep them in excellent condition when they reach the final consumer. In order for this to happen, the key factors to keep in mind are time, isolation, and holding temperature.
Most losses occur between post-harvest and product distribution. These damages affect the final consumer and create major losses for the businesses that sell them.
As previously mentioned, the main issue when transporting perishable goods is to respect the cold chain as much as possible, since it guarantees that the properties of your products are kept intact at all times.
Vehicles for Transporting Goods at Controlled Temperatures
The following types of transportation vehicles were created to keep perishable products at the ideal temperature:
- Isothermal:Has isolating walls, doors, ceiling, and floor, which limits the exchange of heat between the exterior and the interior of the van.
- Refrigerated:Has a non-mechanical cold source that can reduce the interior temperature and maintain it for an average exterior temperature of 30ºC to -20ºC.
- Freezer: Has a cold production mechanism to reduce the interior temperature of the empty space and maintain it at a consistent temperature between -12ºC and -20ºC.
Transportation of perishable goods is regulated by the “Agreement on the International Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs an on the Special Equipment to be used for such Carriage (ATP Treaty),” which establishes standards that guarantee optimal conditions for transporting foods for consumption.
What is the best way to transport perishable goods?
Perishable goods are mostly exported from Mexico to the US by ground, while goods exported to Europe and Asia are transported by air or ocean. Read more about these options below!!
Transportation of Perishable Goods by Ground
- By Truck. Trucks transporting perishable goods have different cold systems, which may or may not be mechanized (ice or dry ice is often used).
- By Rail. Train cars should have an isolating lining, as well as a special system for refrigeration, loading, and unloading. Dry ice is often used to keep goods cold.
Transportation of Perishable Goods by Air
This is the best option for transporting perishable goods. Each airport has a special area for handling perishable goods where temperature can be controlled using refrigerated chambers and freezers. These areas have customs inspection points that are guarded at all times by highly-qualified, specialized personnel, which ensure that the goods are kept at the optimal temperature at all times.
The products most commonly transported by air are:
- Fresh products(fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy, etc.)
- Frozen products (fruit, concentrates, fruit pulps, etc.)
Transportation of Perishable Goods by Ocean
Goods are transported in refrigerated ships that are fully equipped with systems to circulate air properly. You can also ship in refrigerated containers (commonly known as reefers). Usually, logistics operators are in charge of consolidation or deconsolidation.
Before transporting perishable goods, a “temperature requirement sheet” is provided to indicate the temperature at which the product must be kept in the refrigerated container.
The products most commonly transported by ocean are:
- Fresh products (fruit, vegetables, meats, etc.)
- Frozen products (fruit, concentrates, fruit pulps, meats, etc.)