Per­ish­able goods: How to re­tain fresh­ness?

Per­ish­able com­modi­ties move through dif­fer­ent stages be­fore reach­ing their fi­nal desti­na­tion—the end user. In this jour­ney, it is im­por­tant to sus­tain their fresh­ness. CARGOTALK dis­cussed with stake­hold­ers the in­fras­truc­tural frame­work re­quired to boost t

Cargo Talk - - Debate -

Pawanexh Kohli

Chief Ad­vi­sor & CEO, NCCD

The phrase ‘ex­tended life to a prod­uct is pro­vided by cold stor­ages’ refers to a fal­lacy that stems from lack of un­der­stand­ing of cold chain. In the cold chain, the cold stores pro­vide a safe plat­form to safe­guard the ‘life ex­ten­sion’ that is pro­vided by the ini­tial ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­taken at source point. In case of fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles this is pro­vided at mod­ern pack-houses and in case of pro­cessed foods this is un­der­taken in the food pro­cess­ing units. The cold stores, along with reefer trans­port are used to as­sist in main­tain­ing or safe­guard­ing the pro­duce or prod­uct – not for pro­vid­ing any added life ex­ten­sion. For ex­am­ple, in case of fresh milk, the life ex­ten­sion is pro­vided at the vil­lage level milk chiller unit, the rest of the in­fra­struc­ture is only to take care of this valu­able cargo un­til de­liv­ery. Food loss and wastage can­not be mit­i­gated with the main­tain­ing of in­ven­tory in cold stores, but re­quires as­sur­ing the fi­nal de­liv­ery and gain­ful end-use of the food in hand of end-con­sumers.

The in­fra­struc­ture frame­work re­quired is well doc­u­mented in the All In­dia Cold Chain In­fra­struc­ture Ca­pac­ity re­port of 2015. The con­sumer’s main con­cern is best served by low­er­ing the de­mand sup­ply mis­matches and en­sur­ing a steady state of avail­abil­ity of the com­plete bas­ket of food items. Cold chain em­pow­ers the pro­duc­ers to sup­ply to a larger mar­ket spread, off­sets episodic vari­a­tions in sup­ply. The in­crease in mar­ket foot­print in turn jus­ti­fies an in­crease in farm level pro­duc­tiv­ity and ben­e­fits both con­sumers and pro­duc­ers alike. The cold chain is not a nar­row prism of cold stores, but a com­plete de­liv­ery mech­a­nism that seam­lessly con­nects sup­ply with de­mand, bring­ing to re­al­ity the farms-to-ta­ble con­cept. In­dia has al­ready been suc­cess­ful in do­ing so in case of the other dif­fi­cult per­ish­able prod­ucts–milk and ice cream. This re­quires to be em­u­lated across the en­tire bas­ket of food prod­ucts.

Rad­hara­manan Pan­icker

Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, DGM In­dia

A lot of in­vest­ment has gone in to the de­vel­op­ment of cold stor­age fa­cil­i­ties in this coun­try with govern­ment pro­vid­ing sup­port in this sec­tor. How­ever, there is no holis­tic plan­ning for de­vel­op­ment of the in­fra­struc­ture needed for man­age­ment of the horticulture pro­duce in ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner.

We need to cre­ate an AMUL en­ter­prise in the co­op­er­a­tive sec­tor which can take up the de­vel­op­ment, man­age­ment and op­er­a­tion of the needed in­fra­struc­ture com­pris­ing pre-cool fa­cil­ity, col­lec­tion cen­tre, pack houses, cold stor­ages and CA cham­bers in dif­fer­ent re­gions/states.

We need to cre­ate eco­nom­i­cally sized fa­cil­i­ties and not small mul­ti­ple fa­cil­i­ties which are use­less. I un­der­stand some ini­tia­tive in this re­spect is hap­pen­ing in Nashik in Maharashtra. Thirdly we can­not just think only in terms of ex­port but we have to also think in terms of im­port and do­mes­tic move­ment.

Fourthly, we need to map out the whole coun­tries in dif­fer­ent re­gions/clus­ters and mon­i­tor the progress. Lastly, all the fund­ing hap­pen­ing in the sec­tor, whether it is from Apeda or Horticulture board, should be chan­nelised only through one agency and I would state that it should be NCCD which should be dis­burs­ing th­ese funds. That way th­ese will be ac­count­able and real in­fra­struc­ture fa­cil­i­ties will be cre­ated.

Kal­i­das Bhangare

Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Testo In­dia

Be it food prod­ucts such as dairy, fruits, veg­eta­bles, frozen food or phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal goods such as vac­cines, the cold chain be­tween the man­u­fac­turer and the fi­nal con­sumer may un­der no cir­cum­stances be in­ter­rupted. It may lead to qual­ity deficits, fi­nan­cial losses or even se­ri­ous dam­age to the health of the con­sumer or pa­tient.

In ad­di­tion, it also leads to food and other medic­i­nal losses glob­ally. One ma­jor chal­lenge faced by the lo­gis­tics in­dus­try is data log­ging dur­ing the cold chain since tem­per­a­ture mon­i­tor­ing and qual­ity data doc­u­men­ta­tion in the trans­port of sen­si­tive goods is ex­tremely crit­i­cal. Very of­ten the costs of send­ing back the log­ger to the ori­gin are very high and hin­dered by cus­tom reg­u­la­tions.

The cur­rent trend that has be­ing seen in the cold chain lo­gis­tics is switch­ing to the use of sin­gle-use data log­gers or the use and throw log­gers. Testo has in­tro­duced sin­gle-use data log­ger testo 184 T1 (90 days) and testo (150 days) to the cold chain for trans­porta­tion of the frozen food and pharma prod­ucts from their pro­duc­tion plant to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions across the globe.

Su­nil Kohli

Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Ra­hat Cargo

In or­der to en­sure the safe stor­age pend­ing up­lift, the ex­porter must have a proper cold stor­age fa­cil­ity in his ware­house along with tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled ve­hi­cles for the goods’ road trans­porta­tion to the air­port. The air­ports too need to be pro­vided with the state-of-the-art cool­ing cen­tre with var­i­ous tem­per­a­ture con­trol sys­tem to cater to the per­ish­ables’ needs.

Sub­se­quently, the car­ri­ers are ex­pected to exit the goods from cold stor­age con­sid­er­ing the min­i­mum wait­ing time for the per­ish­ables be­fore th­ese are loaded in the air­craft. Ev­ery ef­fort by the air­lines is made not to ex­pose the per­ish­ables to the at­mo­spheric tem­per­a­ture, if th­ese are not favourable.

It is also fea­si­ble for the cargo ware­house cus­to­dian or the car­ri­ers to trans­port the goods to the bay un­der the cover of a Ther­mal Blan­ket to en­sure that a min­i­mal ad­verse tem­per­a­ture ef­fect is re­sulted. There­after, the air­lines must also en­sure that the air­craft belly where such per­ish­ables are to be loaded must be fed with the re­quired temp by the cock­pit crew so that no de­te­ri­o­ra­tion is caused due to lack of de­sired temp dur­ing the air car­riage. On ar­rival of the per­ish­ables at the desti­na­tion, sim­i­lar ex­er­cises need to be un­der­taken which were ob­served for ex­port, that is, prompt stor­age of goods in the cool­ing cen­tre and de­liv­ery with a min­i­mum dwell time.

Amit Chugh AVP Sup­ply Chain, Crys­tal Crop Pro­tec­tion & Chair­man – Cor­po­rate Affairs Com­mit­tee AIMTC (All In­dia Mo­tor Trans­port Congress)

In­dia, the world’s largest pro­ducer of milk and the se­cond largest pro­ducer of fruits and veg­eta­bles, is also one of the big­gest food wasters in the world, wast­ing ` 440 bil­lion worth of fruits, veg­eta­bles and grains ev­ery year. Con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent lev­els of food wasted, cold chain fa­cil­i­ties will play an im­por­tant role in feed­ing the coun­try.

Un­der­stand­ing the in­creas­ing de­mand for an ef­fec­tive cold chain, the govern­ment has es­tab­lished a sep­a­rate depart­ment, Na­tional Cen­tre for Cold Chain De­vel­op­ment (NCCD). To de­velop a world-class cold chain in­fra­struc­ture, the govern­ment and in­dus­try bod­ies need to join hands to adopt bet­ter and more ef­fi­cient tech­nolo­gies to pro­long the shelf life of food prod­ucts and to bring eco­nomic re­turns to the farm­ers. This will not only en­sure year-round avail­abil­ity of per­ish­able food prod­ucts and rea­son­able prices to the con­sumers but also eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion to other parts of the coun­try.

Ra­jesh Neelka­nta

ED& CEO, BVC Lo­gis­tics

In the per­ish­able pro­duce space, the ini­tial rush, in In­dia, has been to­wards build­ing cold stor­age fa­cil­i­ties, ran­domly, with­out much thought of link­ing in the sup­ply source to the mar­ket prox­im­ity. Herein lies the crux of the prob­lem – un­friendly con­di­tions be­tween pro­duce pluck­ing/ har­vest­ing to reach­ing mar­ket place which means lack of tem­per­a­ture con­trolled trans­porta­tion and han­dling con­di­tions. This has now be­come im­per­a­tive to en­sure ex­ten­sion of the life of per­ish­able pro­duce.

The ad­min­is­tra­tors of the coun­try need to pay heed to the hu­mon­gous cost sav­ings and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties that are abound­ing in the right man­age­ment of food in its stor­age and trans­porta­tion.

Ramesh Mami­dala

CEO, Celebi Delhi Cargo Ter­mi­nal

In­fra­struc­ture and reg­u­la­tions both should en­sure that the cold ship­ments are man­aged us­ing seam­less and un­com­pro­mised in­te­grated cold chain, so that ship­ments con­stantly travel through an un­bro­ken cold chain. Lack of the above is ex­pected to lead to mis­han­dling of the tem­per­a­ture sen­si­tive prod­ucts fur­ther caus­ing loss of busi­ness. In­fra­struc­ture needs to be up­graded with more ded­i­cated fa­cil­i­ties to han­dle di­verse port­fo­lio of tem­per­a­ture sen­si­tive prod­ucts.

There is a need to de­velop more ded­i­cated per­ish­able and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal han­dling fa­cil­i­ties both in static as well as mo­bile form. Our reg­u­la­tions to con­trol trans­porta­tion and stor­age of cold chain (with spe­cific fo­cus on pharma) need to se­ri­ously change, on the line of EU’s GDP. It does need sev­eral com­pa­nies to spe­cialise in this busi­ness which are will­ing to make se­ri­ous in­vest­ments in truck­ing, ware­houses, IT sys­tems, tem­per­a­ture track­ing tech­nol­ogy and spe­cialised han­dling/ se­cu­rity screen­ing equip­ment.

Tech­nol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to in­crease prof­itabil­ity and ef­fi­ciency by strength­en­ing sup­ply chain in­volved in per­ish­able han­dling. En­hanced us­age of elec­tronic devices such as ra­dio-fre­quency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion (RFID), global po­si­tion­ing sys­tems (GPS) and data log­gers can dras­ti­cally im­prove ef­fi­ciency, qual­ity con­trol and re­duce wastage. The ideal mix of in­fra­struc­ture, tech­nol­ogy and reg­u­la­tions can cre­ate a ro­bust sup­ply chain net­work and ef­fi­cient pro­cesses con­ducive to per­ish­able han­dling. The en­tire trade fra­ter­nity should be open to make more in­vest­ments to strengthen the cold chain in­fra­struc­ture which will be ben­e­fi­cial for the stake­hold­ers as well the econ­omy of the coun­try.

Akash Bansal

Head – Lo­gis­tics, OM Lo­gis­tics

The pri­mary chal­lenge fac­ing the cold chain in­dus­try is ris­ing prop­erty prices with an in­crease of more than 280 per cent over the last decade. To build a cold stor­age fa­cil­ity with one mil­lion cu­bic feet of space re­quires an acre of land. Elec­tric power is an equally ex­pen­sive chal­lenge.

This forces the ma­jor­ity of cold stor­age oper­a­tors to run on backup power which leads to a marked in­crease in op­er­at­ing costs. Adding to in­creased costs, the lack of two-way cargo move­ment and back haulage of reefer trucks are also unique to In­dia. Other cost con­trib­u­tors in­clude in­ter­state bar­ri­ers, in­ter­city and state taxes and bad roads. The adop­tion of proven tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions can help bring down op­er­at­ing costs, im­prove qual­ity of pro­duce and help the en­vi­ron­ment. Mul­ti­ple, in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions are emerg­ing in In­dia to help meet th­ese goals. Dif­fer­ent prod­ucts re­quire dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures and hu­mid­ity level main­te­nance. To main­tain qual­ity, im­prove shelf life and ex­tend the sale pe­riod of fruits and veg­eta­bles, it is crit­i­cal to con­trol en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions dur­ing stor­age and trans­porta­tion. The use of elec­tronic man­age­ment sys­tems and con­trollers as­sist by con­trol­ling the stor­age en­vi­ron­ment au­to­mat­i­cally, with the pre­set val­ues which help in pre­cise con­trol, food safety and com­pli­ance. Elec­tronic sen­sors help main­tain pre­cise con­di­tions.

Pankaj Me­hta

Coun­try Head & Di­rec­tor, Car­rier Tran­si­cold, In­dia

There is a need for the de­vel­op­ment of ap­pro­pri­ate links that can in­te­grate farm to fork lo­gis­tics. The in­fra­struc­ture re­quired for har­vested fresh hor­ti­cul­tural pro­duce (fruits and veg­eta­bles) is dif­fer­ent from that re­quired for pro­cessed food (value-added prod­ucts). For fresh pro­duce to reach the mar­ket in time, shelf life while still in hand is crit­i­cal. Us­age of the cold chain slows the ripen­ing process and can in­crease shelf life by a few days or even weeks in some cases. To op­ti­mise the ef­fects of the cold chain, fresh pro­duce needs to go through pre-con­di­tion­ing or pre-cool­ing im­me­di­ately af­ter har­vest­ing. This pri­mary ac­tiv­ity safe­guards the qual­ity and value of the pro­duce. Proper pack­ag­ing af­ter sort­ing and grad­ing is an­other im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity which helps to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate tem­per­a­ture man­age­ment and safe­guards the prod­uct from han­dling dam­age dur­ing its jour­ney through the cold chain. Ev­ery prod­uct needs a spe­cific tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity to main­tain its qual­ity and avoid nutri­tion loss. The pro­duce then needs to be stored or trans­ported with ap­pro­pri­ate tem­per­a­tures through reefer vans/trucks to reach far­ther dis­tances and cover un­tapped mar­kets.

Car­rier Tran­si­cold In­dia’s new Ci­tifresh range of fresh-only truck re­frig­er­a­tion units is de­signed to meet In­dia’s grow­ing de­mand for trans­porta­tion of fruits, veg­eta­bles, dairy and con­fec­tionary prod­ucts us­ing re­frig­er­ated trucks. It is easy to in­stall and main­tain as well as ideally suited for de­mand­ing ap­pli­ca­tions in­clud­ing high am­bi­ent con­di­tions up to 50 de­grees Cel­sius. The range de­liv­ers ex­cep­tional value by virtue of its low ini­tial cost and lower main­te­nance and op­er­a­tional costs while a dash­board-mounted DIN con­troller of­fers ease of use.

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