Last year was an exciting time for perishables. The world grew hungrier for fresh produce and the industry saw some very interesting trends and developments. Ahead of Fruit Logistica in Berlin, we took some time to look back at the many stories on perishables that were published in 2017 and picked five that caught our attention in particular. Two are about blockchain, two about the cool chain (one about ocean and one about air freight), and one, maybe not too surprisingly about Amazon and e-commerce. Take a look at the abstracts below, enjoy the reading and see you in Berlin!
Talk Business & Politics, Kim Souza
Retailers are required to remove all products linked to a food recall from the shelves and coolers until it is deemed safe. Because of the time it takes to trace an issue through the supply chain, the products are often lost, creating waste and unnecessary costs. With an indestructible and easily accessible record of each step of the farm-to-fork process, blockchain accelerates the tracing from days and weeks to just seconds, allowing for precise and quick recalls for increased transparency while maintaining consumer trust. And while being able to track down a product is important for retailers and consumers, blockchain can also help producers to recover more quickly from intangible costs tied to reputation. But that’s not all, consumers can know more about the origins of their food, while retailers can better manage the shelf-life of perishables and reduce food waste. Pilot trials have successfully been carried out in China (pork) and the US (mangoes). Read the full story.
Air Cargo World, Randy Woods
One of the types of cargo to benefit from blockchain will be perishables that must be kept at optimal temperatures. On average about 30 percent of the time seafood shipped worldwide is mislabeled, with error rates exceeding 80 percent in certain regions. By using a blockchain and the Internet of Things, an individual fish could be linked with a wide range of telemetry parameters such as time, location, temperature, humidity, motion, shock and tilt as it moves through the cool chain. The final buyer could then access a complete record of information. Additionally, blockchain can eliminate most of the human errors caused by paper-based systems. Most importantly, the decentralized nature of blockchain means no single entity is in control of the tracking process, which may add trust between parts of the supply chain. Read the full story.
Quartz, Cassie Weber, Lila MacLellan
Back in 1977 Cornell University graduate Barbara Pratt was hired by Sea-Land (now Maersk) to build a laboratory inside a shipping container. She traveled around the world in it for years trying to figure out how to keep perishables fresh while in transit. Pratt tried new technologies first with cacao beans and then with all kinds of perishables, the end result was a container design that provided ventilation and helped reduce waste and increase the shelf life of the products. Today, hundreds of thousands of reefer containers are in use to safely transport perishables across the seas. Read the full story.
Stat Trade Times, Shreya Bhattacharya
The flower industry is achieving significant growth rates year on year relying mainly on air freight. As soon as flowers are cut, the clock starts ticking – growers hydrate and place them in coolers on site, and airlines and freight forwarders scramble to fly out the delicate product. 80 to 90 percent of cut flowersare shipped within 24 hours. Markets such as China and India have the most immediate potential for strong growth and traditional flower hubs such as Miami and Amsterdam look to these and other Asian countries to increase business. While the Netherlands remains the dominant central market for the global trade with its combination of local and imported flowers, the four cut flower exporters close to the equator – Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador and Ethiopia – are gaining speed. Read the full story.
Huffington Post, Hannah White
A for Amazon, Amazon for disruption. First it was books, then almost everything else. Except food. But the acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion dollars has competing grocery stores feeling uneasy. Whole Foods has an almost religious customer base, a high-end market with prime locations in urban areas, and big data on offline food retail. An ideal entry point into the offline grocery market and food supply chain, Whole Foods is essentially a playground to test ideas and gather information that could change the food industry. Amazon now has the ability to apply its online data analytics to the offline world to create an entirely new retail experience. They already set the ball rolling as growth in grocery sales for Amazon Fresh soars and while these revenues have yet to return on the massive investment and Whole Foods is struggling with a new Order-to-shelf buying system, the prospects seem encouraging. Is this the tipping point people have been expecting for perishables and e-commerce? Read the full story.