For many freight forwarders, perishable produce has always been an issue. Shipping and transporting products with short lifecycles across the globe is a subject which has seen the use of some rather innovative solutions and led to a recent boom in cold-chain production and distribution around the world.
There are many companies that inhabit the cold-chain sector including those in pharmaceutical and food distribution, and they all need to consider many factors including qualifications, investigations and temperature mapping to make sure cold-chain operations are efficient, cost effective and comply with government regulations. This allows for a smooth delivery of products across the globe and peace of mind for companies.
Prosperity in the sector can be felt in many places throughout the world, including Scotland. One of the country’s biggest exports currently is seafood, and it now accounts for the largest rise – 26 percent, year on year – in ex-Scotland food shipments for Europe, the Middle East and Asia at Seafood Scotland. Last year was a record year for Scottish food and drink exports, reaching £5.5 billion, so it is easy to see why perishable distribution networks and equipment are essential to the current forwarding world.
Not only has this development in cold chain distribution meant building the economies of countries like Scotland, but that, due to advancement in cold chain technology, underdeveloped countries can start to create markets and revenue from farming and further industries. This has been felt in Kenya and in the Indian subcontinent.
Kenya has approved, with ‘conditions’, the takeover of two specialist perishables forwarders in the African country by European logistics giants Kuehne+Nagel and Panalpina.
Whilst this may seem slightly obscure, it provides us with insight into the belief in cold chain distribution from African countries, and the acceptance that they can provide many destinations throughout Europe with quality products. These companies have jumped ahead of the game, strengthening their positions in perishables operations between Kenya and Europe.
The Indian subcontinent has seen temperature-controlled freight boost their economy, whilst also helping to solve environmental issues which have plagued countries for decades. The fact that the Indian government has identified investment in cold chain logistics as a vital component in its farm income strategy should be music to any forwarder’s ears.
This increase in business throughout the cold chain industry can be attributed to technological advances in the sector. One can see the innovation coming from products such as Cold Chain Technologies’ launching of the industry’s first pallet cover system with integrated phase change material, crafting a new way for many food products to be transported in bulk.
Other innovations have seen cold chain technology become cost effective for many businesses and the overall landscape of the industry has become a lot more environmentally friendly. These innovations in the technology have allowed for more consistent shipping results and allowed many freight forwarders to look more professional in relation to the services they can offer clients.
Before you start investing in cold chain distribution with your company, there are some essentials you should consider. The UK refrigerated market needs to continue to focus on environmental issues. The likes of low fuel consumption and reduced noise pollution will be key factors considered by refrigerated-vehicle manufacturers. The technology and innovation may have continued to grow. However, there is always room for improvement.
Even the resilient cold chain sector has been hit with the uncertainties of Brexit and other economic factors, but operators have had a more positive outlook than might have been expected. Lower forecasts for UK economic growth have been a talking point for some industries; however, temperature-controlled freight is something that appears to enjoy overall positivity when it comes to securing the future for economies all over the world.
Matt Dailly, Editor, FORWARDER magazine