20% of perishable shipments are unusable after transport because the cold chain is not properly maintained. In this article we highlight opportunities and challenges in the air transport of perishable goods and take you through the best ways to transport your goods fresh by air in different situations. Let’s get to it!
Effective supply chain management has been the main theme in aviation over the past two to three years, as the coronavirus pandemic caused capacity problems and transport restrictions – resulting in significant food loss and waste. Fewer passenger flights took off, which also affected the transport of perishable goods, and border controls took longer, which can be disastrous for perishable goods.
Food that is lost or wasted accounts for 8-10% of Global Greenhouse Gas emmisions (GHGs). A big difference can therefore be made with suitable transport and storage solutions. The pandemic once again reminded the airline transport industry of the importance of flexibility and responsiveness.
Because even though the end user probably still used the same products: they ate their meals at home instead of in a restaurant and had medication delivered instead of picking it up. With major changes in the supply chain as a result. But inconsistencies in laws and regulations between countries also cause disruptions in the chain.
With 59%, by far most kilometers in food transport are made overseas. This is followed by road (31%) and by train (10%). Aviation accounts for only 0.16% of food transport kilometers (Science, 2018). Within aviation, food transport occupies quite a large share: no less than 15% of global aviation consists of perishable goods. Not surprising, because due to the perishability, the goods often have to arrive at their destination as quickly as possible and air transport is ideal for this.
If we look at tonnage, in 2022 mainly cut flowers, fish, peppers, vegetables and red fruit were transported in aviation. Data shows that most perishable goods are transported from the Netherlands to the United States.
We see something as “perishable” when it deteriorates after a period of time due to exposure to external conditions such as moisture or extreme temperatures. Think for example of food products, flowers, living organisms and medicines. It is important that the cold chain is stable and not disturbed in order to maintain quality.
Within aviation transport we can identify various challenges for maintaining the quality of these goods. Think of cold chain disruptions when transferring from one mode of transport to another, storage in between, timing and changing laws and regulations, or laws and regulations that are inconsistent between different geographical areas. Things you risk when your cold chain doesn’t function well, include texture degradation, discoloration, mold growth and damage of your goods.
The cold chain must ensure that perishable goods are safe and of good quality at the time of use or consumption by the end user. A temperature-controlled environment and good documentation and identifiability of the shipment are crucial for this. Tips for a stable cold chain in aviation transport:
The packaging materials you need to transport your goods by air without loss of quality depend on the ideal temperature within the packaging and external conditions, such as very hot or cold weather at the destination.
The appropriate solution in different situations:
Imagine being able to precisely track your shipment of perishable goods and have insight into the environmental conditions, such as the temperature, inside your packaging during the entire journey. And that you know where the weaknesses in your cold chain are, so you don’t have to throw anything away anymore. It is possible! Coolpack likes to think along with you. For example, we previously integrated a chip in shipping packaging, together with one of our partners.
Curious about the possibilities? Get in touch! The Coolpack team is happy to think along with you.