Perishables: Making constant improvements

Perishables Associations
Celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, the Cool Chain Association continues to improve the handling of temperature-sensitive produce.

Picture credit: Travel Book, Adobe Stock

The air cargo supply chain has weak points, and when a member has an issue the Cool Chain Association is eager to help, says Stavros Evangelakakis, Chairman of the Board at the Cool Chain Association (CCA).

As an example, one member would like a standard Master Air Waybill and Label for perishables similar to pharmaceuticals so the association is engaging with them and connecting them to the right association and institutions for further development.

“We are trying to connect the right dots,” comments Evangelakakis.

Working with associations such as IATA means the CCA can make changes to benefit the industry.

Evangelakakis says, “When we have done the trials for the flowers and berries our plan is to share the results with IATA and come up with suggestions to improve the process. IATA would then recommend to their members with hopes to achieve a common positive outcome for the airfreight industry.”

Through connecting industry leaders, the CCA has helped make important changes to the industry such as using ambient systems when a provider of RFID and wireless sensors made a presentation and a forwarder realised that they could be used for pharmaceuticals.

When there was a call for standards for transporting pharmaceuticals, it was requested that IATA should be the link, which resulted in CEIV Pharma, says Evangelakakis.

Another highlight since the CCA was established was when thermal covers were presented by Dupont, one member picked them up successfully.

Trials and collaborations continue with the CCA signing an MOU with the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) for transporting perishables using air and sea freight.

Three research trials have been conducted for airfreight, two for flowers and one for raspberries to destinations in the European Union and the UK.

Working with the PPECB, trials tracking cut flowers from South Africa found that higher than recommended temperatures affected vase life even if they arrived in acceptable condition.

Another trial from South Africa, this time with raspberries recommended cutting the cut-to-cool time and lowering the air temperature for blast cooling.

Vijan Chetty, Board Director, says, “The research was conducted using research principles and protocols by qualified researchers. The trials were also conducted using the farm to table concept. Tangible and implementable recommendations were made from the research derived.”

The trials are determining where in the value chain food losses and waste occur.

Chetty says, “The research commenced on the farm and as the product moved, reviewed all aspects of the value chain. The CCA envisages developing a training module that will highlight areas that requires improvement. This training video can then be used by CCA members.”

The trials are identifying areas requiring improvements and training initiatives. It is important to remember that products cannot all be treated the same, which is why there need to be product specific recommendations.

Chetty says, “There will be ongoing trials to assist industries that have high quality losses.”

This article was published in the August issue of Air Logistics International, click here to read the digital edition and click here to subscribe.