Transporting fresh products and perishables
To succeed in the perishables business, you need a logistics provider who can safely and efficiently steer your products through the cold chain from origin to destination.
Cold chain – storage – transit
Ensure that the destination airports/ports you are shipping to have similar facilities, and that you only work with cargo carriers that can provide a consistent end-to-end cold chain for your perishables. These facilities should be available in your entire target market to ensure that your products reach consumers in top condition, regardless of their shipment journey.
- Globally, fish is the top commodity moved by air, closely followed by fruits, flowers and vegetables.
- The vast majority of perishables are transported by sea.
- Fruits dominate perishables sea freight; vegetables come far behind but are still the second most important commodity.
- Fruits in general are hardier than vegetables and can therefore withstand longer sea journeys which typically last 26 to 32 days from South America to Europe.
- Typically, what is grown in the south is exported to the north. This holds true for flowers in particular, with South America and Africa as the two key export regions.
Your choice of transport will be affected by the characteristics of your products. Remember that there is little point in paying for a premium air service for some fresh vegetables if the costs outweigh the income, no matter how quickly they reach the market. The same is also true in reverse with road freight – you need to have the network in place to ensure your perishables reach the markets on time and within budget.
Important trade lanes
- Large volumes of perishables are flown from South and Central America to North America. Flowers dominate this trade lane. Another important commodity is fish, followed by vegetables and fruits.
- Almost equal volumes of fruits, flowers and vegetables are flown from South America to Europe.
- From Africa, Europe flies in considerably more perishables, especially flowers. Other commodities are vegetables and fruits.
- Intra-Asia is another important trade lane for perishables that are transported by air. Fish dominates this trade lane. In addition, roughly the same volumes of fish are flown into Asia from Europe.
- South and Central America provide the world with fruits. The highest volumes on the sea routes are transported to North America and Europe. These two destination regions are the most important by far, but fruits are also shipped form Latin America to the CIS, the Middle East and Asia.
- One of the biggest sea freight trade lanes for perishables (fruits, vegetables, flowers) is Intra-Asia.
- Africa, especially South Africa, predominantly exports fruits by sea to Europe, but not so much of the more sensitive vegetables, even though many African countries mass-produce the same. Often, the road and port infrastructure is simply not good enough to support exports of vegetables by sea.
E-commerce and its impact
- Where are your source locations?
- What types of perishables do you want to transport and how – fresh, chilled or frozen?
- What are the issues likely to affect transit and delivery times?
- Are there alternative modes of transport?
- Does your logistics provider have alternative/contingency routes/transport?
- Have you covered the final stages to consumer delivery?
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