Ensuring the freshness of fruit in the supply chain

Everyone likes oranges and tangerines in winter. But not too many of us know how complicated and dynamic the planning of supply chains for fresh fruit logistics services is. There are many factors that can affect the quality, freshness and flavor of fruit related to transportation and logistics. How can they be secured during this process from southern Europe to the rest of the continent? This item shipped from Vilnius-based I drinkthe largest European asset-based transport company, has the answer.

Reasonable transport conditions

Having fruits and vegetables picked straight from the tree or plant is what we look for when we visit the shops. Today’s production is more than 2 billion tons of fruit and vegetables, and yet 22% is lost in the supply chain from harvest to distribution[1]. The quality of fresh fruit on the shelves is, among other things, the result of a precisely detailed and planned supply chain. Indeed, since most fruits have their own logistics requirements, the crucial part is refrigeration to reduce immediate and latent quality deterioration. One of the main requirements is the right temperature and humidity that keeps the fruit fresh during the journey across Europe’s roads, as well as the packaging.

“The most modern and newest logistics fleet is crucial for food transport and its quality. With specially developed refrigerators and digital solutions, we are looking for an exact answer to the sometimes very demanding freight needs and requirements. By understanding the specifics of the business and its key USPs, logistics services can support the ongoing food production business,” says Sandra Senulienė, Head of Key Account Management at Girteka.

Special refrigerated trailers can extend the freshness time of the goods during road transport to the furthest corners of Europe. They ensure the right temperature and security of the load and are perfect for perishable goods such as fresh and frozen food and seafood as well as meat, dairy, plants and pharmaceuticals as the trailers can withstand temperatures from -25 °C to 25 degrees. It is crucial to have the latest and most advanced solutions that are not only reliable when it comes to load securing, but can also be easily monitored with Real-Time Visibility (RTV) solutions. And with a capacity of 33 Euro pallets per trailer, it meets the most demanding requirements.

Fruit growing means flexibility

The fruit production process can fluctuate depending on weather conditions. And when the weather changes, the production capacity fluctuates significantly, which requires more flexibility and adaptation in terms of the road fleet. In order to plan ahead, fruit producers not only need to ensure special requirements for transportation, but also take into account the changes in cargo volumes and loading locations.

“It is very important to have flexibility and capacity in terms of the fleet to pick up the cargo despite the changes in time and space. Sometimes, for example, we receive an order update on the day of loading, so we have to react immediately and adapt to the dynamic situations, not only at different loading locations, but also in terms of time. With our refrigerated fleet, which has an average age of just two years, we easily adapt to changing plans and still deliver fresh and delicious fruit on time,” explains Senulienė.

Changing trucks and trailers, adding or removing additional pickup locations – all of these things are possible when you manage a large fleet to provide the necessary services that ensure the fruit production business continues and develops.

Digital solutions for critical information

As key factors, temperature and humidity, trailers equipped with state-of-the-art solutions are covered, information is very valuable for people who manage cold chains. Knowing the cargo status, location and conditions of the cargo can help plan the next logistic operations and make it possible to react in time to avoid losses.

When Girteka entered its digitization path in 2020, today it faces enormous opportunities due to robotics, AI solutions or RTV. The latest implemented solutions within the Girteka fleet made it possible not only to see the cargo, but also to monitor its condition in real time.

With the company’s logistics service, each customer can get full access to various information about their cargo movement: exact truck location, cargo conditions, estimated time of arrival (ETA) and much more, from anywhere on earth with a connection to the Internet. The platform receives information about the new shipment from Girteka’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and starts receiving telematics data a few hours before loading.

Despite digital solutions that can help manage fresh fruit transport, direct contact with people in relation to the planning, organization and control of road freight transport is always a comprehensive source of reliable information.

insecurity and reliability

Given the current geopolitical situation and economic fluctuations, the coming months and years are very hazy with regard to cold chain logistics and their future. However, when it comes to perishable products, it’s important to remember that according to the World Health Organization, each of us should eat at least 400g of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

Long-term securing of road freight transport can determine more stable business development in the future, and cooperation with large logistics companies will not only achieve this goal, but also ensure sustainable growth. With a focus on sustainable road transport, combined with the latest automotive solutions, a young and constantly renewed fleet and digital tools, we can address key logistics and supply chain management challenges and ensure stability in the recession-ridden months and years ahead.

[1: World Food and Agriculture—Statistical Yearbook 2021 (FAO, 2021)]

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