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What are perishables – and how do you pronounce that word anyway?

Blog post   •   Feb 07, 2019 22:07 CET

Perishables are diverse, but the word is hard to pronounce in English... (Photo: Elena Schweitzer on Dreamstime)

How do you say ‘perishables’? What do you call perishables in your language? Panalpina tested visitors at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, the main event for the global perishables industry.

Is it ‘perishables’ or ‘perishables’? What vowel do you stress and what’s behind this term?

Perishables are products that are time- and temperature-sensitive.

They have a limited shelf life and are liable to spoil or decay. They include fruits and vegetables, fresh and frozen meat and fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, flowers and plants, and even cosmetics.

Success in the perishables industry depends on how logistics providers can safely and efficiently steer them through the cool chain on the way to their final destination.

But why do we use this complicated word when simpler ones might do?

We don’t say, “The strawberries have perished” or “The cherries are perishing.”

We just say, “The strawberries are rotten” or “The cherries have gone bad.”

With perishables in demand around the globe all year long, here’s a selection of what people call them:

In German, “perishable” translates into “verderblich”. So “perishables” are “verderbliche Waren” (which sounds kind of technical) or more accurately “leicht verderbliche Waren”.

“Perishable” is closer to the old French “périssable”.

In China, one of the fastest growing markets for fresh produce, “perishables” can be literally and phonetically translated as “pei-li-shen-fu-er-shi”. Or translated into something like “food items that rot easily”: “yi-fu-lan-de-shi-pin”.

In Italian, it translates into “deperibili” and the Spanish for perishables is “perecederos”.

Over to you: What’s “perishables” in your language?