Industry Report

Technologies to preserve perishable produce   

Industry report

As the demand for perishable goods surges, so does the need for efficient cold chain solutions. This article explores the evolving landscape of cold chain logistics, from sustainable technologies to the crucial role of advanced tracking systems, shaping the future of temperature-sensitive supply chains.

Cold chain infrastructure with coolant support enhances the marketability of frozen foods, meeting consumer demands for quality and freshness. Fluctuations in temperature during transit or storage can lead to spoilage, causing financial losses for producers, distributors, and retailers. The modern supply chain’s complexities, with extended transportation routes and diverse distribution channels, amplify the importance of temperature control.

The cold chain process, encompassing refrigerated transport, storage, and distribution, relies on temperature monitoring to safeguard products from spoilage, contamination, or deterioration. Sanket M Sheth, the Founder and President of Elixia Tech, underscores the escalating demand for efficient cold chain solutions, particularly in pharmaceuticals, food, and agriculture. This growing necessity presents opportunities for innovation and investment across these sectors. Deep Khira, CEO of Sub Zero Insulation Technologies, highlights India’s pressing need for cold chain infrastructure, especially considering its status as the largest milk producer and second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables globally. Insufficient infrastructure contributes to post-harvest wastage. Khira emphasises the urgency for businesses to address these gaps, stressing that the end customers should recognise and embrace the associated costs. This strategic move will reduce waste and enhance food product quality in healthcare, food and beverage, and agriculture. However, due to low-profit margins, many companies must compromise on crucial aspects like reefer truck procurement and maintenance.

Government initiatives aimed at curbing food waste are driving the expansion of the cold chain sector. Additionally, the rise of online grocery shopping introduces a new dimension to this growth, necessitating efficient distribution networks. These factors contribute to the continued expansion of the cold chain industry.

Cold chain awareness

The cold chain sector has evolved in line with sustainability and efficiency, with shifts towards renewable energy sources like solar and wind power for cold storage facilities. Sustainable packaging solutions are also gaining traction to ensure product quality while reducing environmental impact. Moreover, there is a growing adoption of electric vehicles in logistics to cut carbon emissions. Eco-friendly refrigerants are utilised to minimise environmental harm and enhance energy efficiency. Despite these advancements, public awareness of the cold chain remains low. However, increased attention from experts and a rising demand, especially in pharmaceuticals, drive growth opportunities. Hence, the growing demand for temperature control is needed to mitigate food waste and health risks. Effective temperature regulation across the supply chain is essential for product quality and safety.

Temperature control

With a burgeoning global population and urbanisation, there is an increased reliance on perishable goods like fresh produce, dairy, and pharmaceuticals. Modern supply chain complexities underscore the importance of temperature management. Variations in temperature during transport or storage can lead to spoilage, causing financial losses. Refrigerated trucks with multiple temperature zones are indispensable for e-commerce operations. Advanced vehicle technologies, such as those complying with BS6 norms, enhance efficiency and driver comfort to ensure food safety through continuous temperature monitoring.

Intermodal transport emerges as a vital solution in cold chain logistics, optimising fuel costs by integrating various transportation modes like trucks, trains, and ships. This approach balances temperature control and efficiency, leveraging each mode’s strengths for cost-effectiveness. Trains excel in fuel efficiency for long hauls, while trucks offer flexibility for last-mile delivery. Additionally, Light Commercial Vehicles present economic advantages with lower operational costs and heightened sustainability, aligning with the industry’s focus on reducing carbon emissions. This shift towards smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles reflects a commitment to sustainability in cold chain operations.

Yogesh Bhamare, Technical Expert at EAC Regional Centre of Excellence for Health Supply Chain Management, underscores the cold chain industry’s evolution towards sustainability and efficiency. It includes the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power for cold storage facilities, alongside a shift towards sustainable packaging solutions to safeguard temperature-sensitive products while reducing environmental impact.

Phase change materials

Phase change materials (PCMs) absorb energy while undergoing phase transitions, providing efficient cooling solutions. Sanket Sheth highlights recent advancements in phase change materials (PCMs) and refrigerants, offering more efficient and environmentally friendly preservation solutions. Yogesh echoes this sentiment, emphasising the cost-effectiveness of PCMs in maintaining continuous cold chain conditions. It ensures uninterrupted storage for temperature-sensitive commodities, especially critical for vaccine efficacy and medical supplies. Additionally, there is a trend towards the creation of compact active cold chain boxes by companies. Current technological developments focus on implementing IoT devices at the individual box level.

Tracking technologies 

Adopting IoT-based technologies, including Temperature Measurement Devices, door sensors, temperature sensors, and GPS devices, is transforming the tracking and monitoring of temperature-sensitive shipments. These devices can track and monitor real-time location, temperature, humidity, box opening times, and impact details. 

The advanced tracking technologies facilitate swift responses to deviations from optimal conditions, ensuring the safe transit of temperature-sensitive goods. This involves maintaining precise temperature controls throughout the supply chain and employing certified packaging materials, with safety protocols including regular equipment maintenance, specialised staff training, and contingency plans for unforeseen events. 

India stands poised for rapid growth in the Asia Pacific cold chain market, driven by its large population and cultural preference for dairy products. Rupali Patil, a cold chain consultant, highlights India’s dairy consumption rate, surpassing the global average by a considerable margin.  Urbanisationurbanisation and rising living standards further propel India’s daily milk consumption, exceeding the global average. 

The rising demand for perishable commodities, such as fruits and vegetables, is largely fuelled by a growing awareness of their nutritional benefits. However, preserving these perishable crops challenges farmers due to the cost and energy requirements of conventional storage methods. One promising solution is adopting zero-energy evaporative systems, which operate without external energy sources. Evaporative cooling technology holds promise for extending the shelf life of fresh produce post-harvest. Moreover, India’s industrial expansion in pharmaceuticals, processed food, and agriculture relies heavily on cold chain solutions to uphold product quality and safety. Infrastructure development investments are crucial, according to Manish A. Dandekar, proprietor of Dandekar HVAC System, emphasising the need for temperature-controlled storage facilities and expanded transportation networks. Stringent government policies, incentives for investors, and industry partnerships are vital for enhancing supply chain efficiency and food safety standards.

In conclusion

Many transport systems, refrigerated and unrefrigerated, are employed to distribute various foods, ranging from dry to chilled and frozen products. These systems maintain food temperature within precise limits to ensure optimal safety and prolonged shelf life. Increasingly, sustainability considerations are factored into these transportation processes, necessitating a holistic approach. While lower temperatures may elevate energy consumption, they can extend storage duration, thereby minimising waste.

Managing logistics for temperature-sensitive products poses unique challenges compared to dry cargo. Factors such as product quality, specialised transport fleets, and energy requirements for storage, handling, and transportation add complexity. With cold chains becoming more intricate, transportation methods are evolving accordingly. Pharmaceuticals and other goods necessitate temperature monitoring throughout transportation to comply with regulations and ensure safety. Detecting temperature deviations is crucial, especially in cold supply chains. They rely on refrigerated containers to prevent product damage caused by unforeseen changes in ambient temperature.

Finally, aligning logistics and inventory planning allows businesses to understand the drivers behind costs and revenues. It enables them to adapt strategies in response to market changes. By leveraging AI and advanced analytics for demand planning and forecasting, companies can achieve accuracy, ultimately maximising profitability.


Deep Khira, Founder and CEO, Sub Zero Insulation Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Refrigerated trucks with multiple temperature zones in the exact vehicle are required for e-commerce businesses.

Yogesh Bhamare, Technical Expert, EAC Regional Centre of Excellence for Health Supply Chain Management. 

IoT solutions and advanced software applications for real-time data monitoring ensure resource utilisation and visibility throughout the supply chain.

Manish A. Dandekar, Proprietor, Dandekar HVAC System.

Cooling technologies now have IoT-enabled tracking systems for monitoring temperature-sensitive goods.

Sanket M Sheth, Founder and President, Elixia Tech.

The need for efficient cold chain solutions is becoming dominant with the rise of the pharmaceutical, food, and agriculture sectors. This presents a vast opportunity for investment in these sectors. 

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