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Revolutionizing The Perishable Food Market: Innovations In Cold Chain Logistics

PCM technology-based solutions offer a possibility of disruption in the cold chain logistics industry enabling food processors and retailers to expand their footprint in the market.

Global consumer behaviour has transformed while battling the gravest of the health crisis the world has ever seen.There is an increased preference for digital and home delivered shopping along with being a heightened consciousness for price, eco-friendly, healthy and locally procured things. PWC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey (June 2021) found that some of these trends were already in motion and got accelerated during the pandemic; and are now here to stay. Many customers who earlier enjoyed walking into a store to grabtheir groceries, now prefer to have them doorstep delivered. Businesses have been forced to cater to this increased demand to ensure their own sustenance and viability. But the shift hasn’t come easy for them.

Home delivery of 100% of groceries has its own set of challenges, for chilled, frozen and other perishablefood stuffs which highlighted the importance of cold chain logistics, its safety and efficacy especially for hyperlocal deliveries.

Traditionally, cold chain solution providers used gel packs or dry ice to move small shipment sizes. These solutions, though viable, wereinvariably unsafe and ineffective. Product quality wascompromised, and delivery radius wassignificantly reduced. Reliable solutions such as refrigerated trucks werenot viable for all kinds ofpackage sizes.Additionally, they didn’t work effectively for hyperlocal deliveries and viamodes that required temperature maintenance without a connection to a power source,such as bikes. It is in these circumstances that innovative cold chain technology companies cameto the rescue with highly specialised and customised solutions.

Innovative solutions based on Phase Change Technology (PCT) or “Thermal batteries” have become very popular in this context. These solutions use engineered nontoxic and noninflammable chemicals with specific freezing and melting points (ranging from +18oC for use in chocolates to -25oC for use in Ice creams) to offer controlled temperature packaging. Theyare used inside gel packs and kept in a freezer for a few hours. Once the gel packs are frozen, they can be used inside insulated bags or boxes to maintain temperatures for a desired period of time.

Unlike gel packs and dry ice, these solutions guarantee accurate temperature control and therefore are more effective that even a reefer truck for high frequency distribution. Different temperatures can be achieved inside the same box by using different numbers of PCM cartridges depending upon the product to be delivered. This provides greater flexibility in operations and an optimal utilization of infrastructure without being dependent upon dedicated assets like reefer trucks. From a commercial standpoint, thecosts are 50% lower compared to a refrigerated truck. These factors give this solution unparalleled economic advantage and ensure a cost-effectiveand temperature-maintaineddelivery every time to the customer. These solutions, also referred to as passive solutions, are virtually maintenance free due to lower chances of damage as they have very few moving parts. The units offer flexibility in terms of size and also eliminate the use of fossil fuels. This makes them not only economically viable, but also environmentally sustainable.

PCM technology-based solutions offer a possibility of disruption in the cold chain logistics industry enabling food processors and retailers to expand their footprint in the market. With the growth of e-commerce and last mile delivery companies like Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzoetc., one no longer needs to be a large brand withhuge marketing budgets and supply chains to deliveryour product to the customer. Through strategic partnership with technology providers who can offer the right kind of solutions for delivery, food processors will be able to take their products to a much wider market. With increased consumer awareness towards sustainable and reliable solutions, these solution providers can offer sustainable and affordable solutions for Indian cold chain and food delivery. This can completely revolutionize the way food and perishables movement happens and can bring in new business opportunities for existing and new logistics as well as food companies.

Source: Business World

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