The Food Supply Chain has always been very complicated but not extremely efficient. The lack excellent communication within the different levels of logistics and market fragmentation are critical drivers of food loss. Thanks to the Internet of Things and other digital innovations, companies are unlocking flows of information and enabling new connections, making food chains simpler, faster, and more transparent. Researchers are developing new ways to detect early signs of spoilage from farm to table. Advancements in logistics technology and apps provide better tracking of perishable foods. Another way to minimize losses is minimizing handling, which has the added advantage of reducing damage as well as spoilage risks.
At East Coast Transport we repeatedly mention the impact that The Internet of Things (IoT) has on logistics. IoT is being called upon to solve a plethora of problems in every industry. In the food and grocery industry, it is being looked at as a way to improve supply chain performance and profit margins by tracking food freshness and predicting and avoiding the spoilage of perishable foods. The companies that are choosing to use IoT to their advantage are noticing huge gains because of new sensors that monitor the capacity food throughout the supply chain and also to detect and predict the risk of spoilage for perishable foods. Recently, Clemson University researchers developed a new way of tracking and minimizing waste down to the molecule. Researchers called it “smart packaging” which can detect time, temperature, moisture, and oxygen levels. Typically items are monitored via computers in refrigerated trucks and through handheld devices to help identify and correct potential problems. When using smart packaging, companies can have another level of monitoring. This tracking is done with color-changing tags or labels that change according to degradation sensors that measure the decay of an item and will change the color of the entire package in response to chemical changes.
New technology is only one piece of the puzzle, human interference and handling is also a huge concern in the logistics process. Fresh produce spoils easily. Worst of all, in many cases, it doesn’t show signs of rotting until it’s too late, resulting in shipments being rejected at the very end of the fresh supply chain. This typically leaves the supplier, producer, or grower bearing the cost of the loss. To minimize losses, it’s necessary to minimize handling, which has the added advantage of reducing damage as well as spoilage risks. Leading companies approach this challenge in many ways.
The use of cold chain 3PLs, such as East Coast Transport, plays a vital role in handling reduction, particularly concerning identification and use of appropriate transport routes, modes, and methods to eliminate touch points in the supply chain. 3PLs are valued for their knowledge and experience in working with every point of contact, which helps shippers to anticipate and prevent delays, and ensures fresh and frozen produce is handled correctly during mode switches or handoffs. Contact ECT today, to learn about the safeguards we take to ensure the least amount of spoilage.