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Beat the Challenges In Cold Chain Logistics With Frosty Tips

January 12, 2023
 By Jacob Lee
Beat the Challenges In Cold Chain Logistics With Frosty Tips
Last Modified: January 17, 2024
Understanding the challenges in cold chain logistics is important. Knowing these challenges wil prepare for you anything that could go wrong when you use this type of logistics service.

Challenges in cold chain logistics make the shipping and storage of frozen goods a very unforgiving process. When undertaking shipping or storage operations for frozen goods, it’s important that you’re prepared for the potential challenges your frozen goods will face. 

Some of the challenges in cold chain logistics that your freight could face include some of the following:

  • Microbial contamination
  • Damaged products
  • Poor packaging
  • Exposure to heat 
  • Transportation breaking down
  • Condensation
  • Freezer or cooler damage 

Fortunately, the right cold chain provider will help you overcome these challenges.

We’ll go over the challenges in cold chain logistics as well as show why working with an experienced company like USA Refrigerated Freight is your best option. 

Stacked crates of fruits and vegetables

What Are the Challenges Of Cold Chain?

Transporting perishable goods is difficult and requires a large number of logistical considerations. While carriers and logistics providers do their very best to handle goods safely and efficiently, there are many things that can go wrong. 

We’ve provided more information on some of the cold chain logistics challenges that could harm your shipment. 

Microbial Contamination

One severe problem in the cold chain is the threat of microbial growth on different products. While many temperature sensitive items require a cold environment, microbial growth is a severe problem within many freezers and refrigerators. 

Microbial contamination can occur in:

  • Meat 
  • Vegetables
  • Certain kinds of fruit

Typically, foods that have a high concentration of acids and vinegars are less likely to suffer from this type of contamination. Nonetheless, this is a challenge that you can expect when using cold chain logistics.   

Damaged Products

Damaged goods and products are fairly natural occurrences in cold chain logistics. There are many reasons that temperature-controlled products can sustain damage while in transit. 

Some of these reasons include:

  • Human error while loading
  • Human error while unloading
  • Exposure to inconsistent temperatures during the shipping process

Many companies in the cold chain do their best to handle all shipments with care. Nonetheless, mistakes can occur and cooling systems can malfunction which causes damage or loss to sensitive products.  

Poor Packaging

Poor packaging on part of shippers is another challenge facing cold chain logistics. Perishable goods are susceptible to temperature changes or expiration after certain lengths of time. They can also be damaged or totally lost if they’re not packaged safely. 

Using a poorly tapped box with no cushioning isn’t going to provide your food with good enough protection during loading and unloading. Mistakes like this are why poor packaging is a common cold chain issue. 

Exposure To Heat

Although refrigerated goods need to stay in the appropriate cold temperatures, it isn’t bad for these types of goods to be in warmer temperatures briefly. However, prolonged exposure to a warmer environment will have a detrimental impact on the products. Oftentimes, heat exposure occurs during the loading and unloading process on the dock. 

To counteract this, many cold chain logistics providers train their employees to load and unload their freight at an extremely fast pace to avoid this type of exposure. Our article on cold chain in agriculture has some more useful information on how safely keep fruits, vegetables and other perishable goods safe while in transit.

Broken Down Vehicle

A vehicle breakdown is one of the worst things that can happen when it comes to the transportation of temperature controlled products. When a truck breaks down, several things tend to go wrong. 

Perishable goods stuck in broken-down trucks face the following issues:  

  • Power to the reefer trailer could be lost, causing all the perishable goods to be subjected to warmer temperatures
  • Delay causes the perishable goods to be lost during transit because fuel for refrigeration runs out

Truck breakdowns happen for many reasons. Most don’t have anything to do with the refrigeration unit itself, but can still affect the timing of delivery. The tighter the deadline, the more likely these delays lead to problems.  

Semi Truck Repairs and How Often They Occur (2022)

Road Side RepairsOccurrence By Percentage
Tire51.3 Percent
Jump or Pull Start7.6 Percent
Alternator4. Percent
Wiring3.9 Percent

Provided by Truck Info

While semi trucks are durable and rugged, they do get worn down over time. Breakdowns can occur, which can put a real damper on your cold chain operations. To minimize the likelihood of their trucks breaking down, many cold chain logistics providers require their drivers to perform maintenance checks on their trucks. 

They do this by having their drivers fill out inspection sheets after finishing their shifts. The inspection sheets reveal what parts of the truck need to be fixed so that it can continue to stay operational. 


Condensation is another problem that cold chain management frequently runs into. When products go from cold temperatures into warmer ones, condensation is natural.. Unfortunately, one of the causes of microbial growth in perishable goods is condensation. 

Condensation causes microbial growth under the following conditions: 

  • Condensate (water) drips onto the food
  • The food is exposed to the microbes from where the condensate dropped and thawed
  • The food becomes contaminated by the microbes

Water from condensation usually forms on the surface of the walls or on the items themselves. When condensation occurs on a surface that may not be clean, it could adversely impact the food without consumers even realizing it, thus putting their health at risk. 

Our article on healthcare cold chain logistics will help you when shipping medical items.

Freezer or Cooler Damage

The last problem facing chain logistics we’ll discuss is freezer or cooler damage. If either of these devices has some type of malfunction, your temperature controlled products will suffer because of it.

Some types of damage that freezers and coolers could have include:

  • Damage to doors
  • Leaking water
  • Faulty insulation

Damage to these parts of freezers and coolers can have a negative impact on their ability to provide cold storage for temperature sensitive goods. Reefer trailers can also have damage that prevents them from providing a cold environment for cold goods as well. 

Damages that reefer trailers are susceptible to include:

  • Fluid leaks
  • Faulty hoses and belts
  • Malfunctioning air chutes
  • Door seal damage

Having functioning equipment is important for maintaining the temperature in the trailers, freezers and coolers. To rectify this problem, many cold chain logistics providers perform routine maintenance on their equipment. This ensures that if anything starts to malfunction on their reefer trailers, freezers, or coolers, they’ll be able to address the issue before it gets out of hand.

Before shipping your perishable goods off, check refrigerated freight rates so you’ll know what you’ll be paying when you ship.

Palletized perishable goods that have been loaded into a reefer trailer

Regulations For Cold Chain Products

There are many different regulations that go along with transporting food and pharmaceutical products. Cold chain logistics solutions place significant emphasis on such regulations, but it’s meant to help shippers of sensitive products stay in accordance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. 

Within Chapter 21 the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), you’ll find the rules set by the FDA that must be followed when shipping certain types of temperature controlled products. 

Some of the subchapters that are applicable to refrigerated goods include:

  • Subchapter B: Food for Human Consumption
  • Subchapter C: Drugs: General
  • Subchapter D: Drugs for Human Use
  • Subchapter E: Animal Drugs, Feeds and Related Products
  • Subchapter F: Biologics
  • Subchapter G: Cosmetics

The processes used by cold chain logistics to ship and store products like these are designed to abide by FDA regulations. This ensures that your goods are not only in compliance with the FDA’s rules, but that they are safe to consume. 

To warehouse workers discussing the challenges in cold chain logistics

Why Cold Chain Logistics Are Essential

Cold chain logistics are an essential service when you need to ship and store perishable and temperature sensitive goods. Moving goods like these, often within a short time frame, is a task that requires a high degree of accuracy. 

Even with all of the challenges it faces, cold chain logistics is able to provide the following:

  • Product tracking
  • Accurate estimated delivery
  • Product quality monitoring
  • Fast shipping

Another reason cold chain logistics are so essential is that no other shipping service can move temperature controlled goods for you. Regular dry van shipping is too hot to provide safe transport for sensitive goods.  

If you only ship temperature sensitive goods on an infrequent basis, then investing in a cold chain logistics provider isn’t worth it. However, if you’re a farmer or rancher, having a dedicated cold chain logistics provider is necessary. A cold chain logistics provider will be able to handle every aspect of the transportation process so you don’t have to. 

Thanks to cold chain logistics, shippers can enjoy the many benefits of temperature controlled shipping.

USA Refrigerated Freight Can Overcome the Challenges In Cold Chain Logistics

USA Refrigerated Freight is a reliable cold chain transportation company that you can rely on. With a fleet of trucks and numerous drivers with years of experience, you can count on us to make sure your freight gets to its destination on time. 

On top of our reliable shipping capabilities, you’ll have access to competitive rates and top-quality partners serving a variety of industries.

  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Agricultural shipping
  • Floral deliveries

Fill out your quote below or get in contact with our team at (866) 849-4923 if you have any questions about our shipping services.  

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