Perishables Transport: What You Need to Know

Perishables transport requires meticulous planning and skilled execution to ensure the safety and quality of the products. In this guide, we'll discuss the importance of perishables logistics and how perishables are transported.
Perishables trucks
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What are perishables?

Perishables are temperature and time-sensitive products that are prone to spoiling quickly if not kept in appropriate storage conditions.

This includes foods like fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, and dairy products, beverages such as fruit juices and beers, as well as flowers, plants, and pharmaceutical products.

Why is the logistics of transporting perishables important?

Non-perishable products, such as dried or canned food, have a long shelf life without requiring refrigeration. They retain their quality when stored at room temperature.

Perishables, however, degrade quickly if they are not kept within their optimal temperature range. If this happens, it can result in:

  • Product loss from over-ripening and spoilage
  • Bruising and discoloration
  • Bacterial and fungal growth
  • Loss of flavor, texture, and aroma

Perishables can also be adversely affected through exposure to light, humidity, and atmospheric pressure changes so these need to be accounted for as well.

Put simply, if perishables are not stored correctly in transit, they lose quality and may even become unsafe. This means you won't be able to sell them, incurring a considerable financial loss.

Many countries strictly enforce these standards through regulations that forbid the import of perishables that have been stored beyond their optimal temperature range for a certain period.

Perishables transport methods

To avoid these risks and costs, you need a cold chain logistics strategy for perishables.

The cold chain is a logistics network that maintains the optimal temperature range for perishable products throughout the entire shipping duration, from its origin to the end customer.

As well as controlling the temperature in warehouses and distribution centers, the cold chain ensures perishables are stored at the required temperature in transit, whether that is by road, rail, air, or sea.

The majority of perishables are transported over long distances by sea, as this method allows for large cargo volumes at a relatively low cost.

Many highly perishable products, such as flowers and plants, are transported by air freight as this method is considerably faster. However, this may not be cost-effective for transporting large volumes of heavy perishables.

Inevitably, road and/or rail transport is used to bring the perishables to their final destination in temperature-controlled containers.
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Perishables transport: What are the options?

Since perishables have varying optimal temperature requirements, different storage methods are used in transit.

Refrigerated containers

Refrigerated containers, otherwise known as reefers, are insulated units with temperature-control equipment installed. They also feature humidity control and airflow mechanisms.

The optimal temperature can be set as required, from lows of -30°C for frozen meats and seafood to chilled temperatures for dairy products, confectionery, and certain vegetables.

Refrigerated containers make it possible to transport many perishables for up to one month, so it is ideal for sea transport.

Insulated containers

Some perishables, such as tropical fruits, don't require refrigeration but still prefer cool conditions. In these cases, insulated containers are used instead without temperature-control equipment.

Insulated containers provide sufficient protection from ambient temperatures, allowing cold chain operators to maintain a stable, cool temperature for the entire shipping duration.

Dry containers

Dry containers are mostly used to transport non-perishables such as grains, machinery, and building materials that primarily require protection from moisture. However, for certain perishables, dry containers may also be appropriate for shorter transit times.

Denkers BV: A trusted perishables transport partner

As a perishables supplier, managing your product's cold chain requirements is extremely challenging. Denkers BV is here to take the stress out of it for you.

We are specialists in arranging the safe and efficient transport of perishables from point A to point B, all over the world, no matter the size of the cargo or the local conditions of the final destination.

As well as ensuring your perishables arrive as fresh as when they left your facilities, we handle all of the necessary paperwork, including documentation, insurance, customs, and other formalities.

Get in touch with us to discuss your perishable transport needs, and one of our expert advisors will be happy to help you.


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