Rahul Mehra

Scenario in Perishable Logistics/Supply Chain

Besides the range of temperature and humidity levels that your perishable goods may endure, consider the transportation modes you use – truck, ship, rail, or plane. Each mode brings a different set of potential problems- Authored by: Rahul Mehra, CEO, AWL India Pvt. Ltd.

Perishables. It’s a word that can make any shipping manager or logistics provider cringe. The loss of perishable goods in transit means lost revenue. But a host of technologies and new solutions take the fear out of shipping perishable goods such as pharmaceuticals, food, and plants. Choosing the right type of packaging and testing it before shipping your perishable goods will protect them. You can further increase your chances of making safe and timely deliveries by evaluating what you’re shipping in the first place. And, of course, always plan and prepare for the worst.

The Cold Chain Monitoring Market in Asia Pacific region specifically is expected to grow at the highest rate between 2016 and 2022. This market growth can be attributed to the growing demand for food, increase in population relying on medication, and rapid urbanization worldwide. The cold chain network in this region is likely to grow at a fast rate in the coming years, owing to the technological advancements in cold chain monitoring solutions and growing awareness about the quality of the resources maintained under refrigerated temperatures. India’s greatest need is for an effective and economically viable cool chain solution that will totally integrate the supply chains for all commodities. From the production centers to the consumption centers, thereby reducing physical waste and loss of value of perishable commodities. The government has laid out elaborate plans and incentives to support large scale investments essential for developing an effective and integrated cold chain infrastructure.

Whether one is an experienced shipper of perishables or just expanding into this type of shipping, it’s important to ask the following questions:

What kinds of perishables are you shipping? The first step in preparing to ship perishables is to identify the kind of product you are shipping and its limitations. For example, if you ship bananas, which have a limited shelf life and can’t be frozen, they have to get to the customer very quickly. As a result, air express shipping may be the best transportation mode. In general, food will spoil if exposed to improper temperatures or humidity levels or long periods of time prior to consumption. Pharmaceuticals can become unsafe or ineffective if temperatures or humidity levels exceed allowable ranges. And plastic becomes brittle in low temperatures.

What types of environmental conditions will your goods endure? Consider the environmental conditions that the goods will endure while in transit. Will the goods go through high-humidity zones or extreme low-temperature zones? Take these factors into account when determining how to package your perishables, especially in a generally hot country like India where throughout the year, the average temperature remains quite high across many states.  As an additional step it is imperative to find a logistics provider that offers testing chambers to simulate the range in temperatures and humidity levels that your goods may encounter in their journey from point A to point B.

What transportation modes do you use? Besides the range of temperature and humidity levels that your perishable goods may endure, consider the transportation modes you use – truck, ship, rail, or plane. Each mode brings a different set of potential problems. Working with an experienced logistics provider, you can test your packages against a number of forces that they may encounter in transit – including compression, falls, and shock. Testing to make sure your perishable goods are packaged properly to avoid damage from the impact of these forces will prevent problems down the road.

AWL’s specialized food & beverage logistics division, through strict SOP execution and best practice, is ideally set up to fulfill these challenging requirements. We adhere to the highest standards of hygiene, as endorsed by the appropriate FSSAI licenses at our warehouses. Food and beverages manufacturers put their trust in the know-how of our logistics experts. AWL has capabilities to handle Cold Chain as well as ambient supply chain. Whether it’s for perishable Food products or non-perishable FMCG products, AWL enables increased throughput and ability to handle peak volumes through modern warehouse infrastructure and processes. Moreover, our cross-functional team of supply chain network and solution designers with proven expertise in F&B industry coupled with our state-of-the-art equipment and temperature monitoring systems for temperature controlled services make us a preferred choice in the industry.

The scenario in perishable supply chain in India is incomplete without the massive challenges being faced by the supply chain providers along with the challenges lying ahead. There is lack of adequate number of refrigerated vehicles for movement of perishables, (with the exception of milk). According to industry estimates, around 100 million tonnes of perishable cargo moves via non-refrigerated transport and only four million tonnes is transported on reefer trucks. Lack of knowhow and trained manpower further adds on to the existing woes in the Indian market.  Despite the increasing number of infrastructure projects, there is serious lack of manpower with appropriate skill and training to handle modern technology. Cool chain in itself is not a complete solution to address quality and marketability issues concerning perishable products. Cool chain projects are seen by investors as high on capital, low on volume and requiring long payback period for the investment.

One of the main reasons for galloping rate of food inflation in India is the lack of supply chain for food, in which cold chain plays an integral part. Robust cold chain is the need of the day to benefit from larger production capacity and passing it on to consumers in the form of reduced prices as well as producers in terms of reduced wastage. A well organized cold chain reduces spoilage, retains the quality of the harvested products and guarantees a cost efficient delivery to the consumer given adequate attention for customer service. The main feature of the chain is that if any of the links is missing or is weak, the whole system fails.

Indian Cold Chain industry is largely unorganized in nature. Thereby, presenting a great opportunity for foreign companies to explore and invest more in this sector. However, it has been observed that the sector is not well organized and operating under below capacity. The Indian cold chain market is highly fragmented with  more than 3,500 companies in the whole value system Organized players contribute only 8%–10% of the cold chain industry market and as on today, most equipment in use is outdated and single commodity based. It is imperative to have an undisrupted, seamless and smooth functioning supply chain for the effective logistics operations and cold chain can be no exception. Today the supply chain is highly fragmented and has small time transport operators working within certain areas and cold storage facilities located without proper connectivity to meet the production or consumption centers.