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Cold Chain Fulfillment: The Demands of Perishable Products

April 20, 2023
 By Natalie Kienzle
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Cold Chain Fulfillment: The Demands of Perishable Products
Last Modified: June 2, 2023
Unlock the power of cold chain fulfillment for your business. Find out how refrigerated freight services maintain product integrity and safety.

Cold chain fulfillment is vital in today’s world. It keeps refrigerated items in good shape, but it’s not always easy. Problems with temperature, storage, and transport can happen. Overcoming these issues is important for delivering fresh, safe products.

Refrigerated freight associations, like the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA), help set and regulate cold chain standards. Cold chain fulfillment is the process of storing, handling, and transporting refrigerated and frozen products. It ensures the quality of perishable goods like food, medications, and chemicals.

We’ll show you how efficient cold chain management helps with fulfillment and promotes success in a tough economy.

Understanding Cold Chain Delivery and Frozen Fulfillment

Customers are more aware of the importance of product quality. This means the need for refrigerated fulfillment services rises. Companies are looking for reliable partners to handle their perishable goods and ensure a smooth cold chain process.

Growing Demand for Refrigerated Fulfillment Services

The demand for refrigerated fulfillment is rising. Small and large companies are competing for customer attention. That means investing in the best ways to keep products fresh, no matter where they are coming from. 

Many factors contribute to this rising trend:

  • Expanding global food trade: The trade of perishable food items, such as fruits, vegetables, and meats, has grown. This requires efficient cold chain solutions to ensure food safety and freshness.
  • Rising consumer expectations: Today’s consumers want high-quality, fresh products year-round. This puts pressure on companies to deliver goods in peak condition.
  • eCommerce boom: There has been a rise in eCommerce businesses in the food and grocery sector. This created a surge in demand for frozen and refrigerated fulfillment services.  
  • Increased awareness of food safety: Consumers care about food safety and their health more than ever. This drives companies to invest more in cold chain solutions to keep high standards and prevent spoilage.
  • Growth of the pharmaceutical industry: The safe delivery and storage of sensitive medications and vaccines is more important than ever. It relies on cold chain logistics for both storage and delivery.

The need for large and small scale fulfillment of cold chain products keeps growing. USA Refrigerated Freight wants to make sure that you get the right help to run your business at its best. 

cold chain fulfillment truck driving down a bridge highway

Cold Chain Fulfillment: A Critical Part of Refrigerated Logistics

To make sure refrigerated products reach their destinations in the best condition, examine several factors.

In the following sections, we’ll look at the importance of:

  • Maintaining quality and safety
  • Meeting strict temperature requirements
  • Adhering to industry regulations and standards

With these in mind, businesses can improve the success of their cold chain operations.

Ensuring Product Quality and Safety

We’ve already mentioned the importance of setting standards for product quality and safety. Unsafe and spoiled products can’t sell. They also end up damaging your reputation as a business. 

Solutions like dry ice or insulated boxes work for small parcels. Commercial cold freight does better with large scale solutions. The best way to get that is through reefer services that actively keep things at a set temperature.

The right fulfillment partner will take the right steps to protect your investment. Strong product quality saves you money and improves your reputation with customers.

Meeting Strict Temperature Requirements

Perishable fulfillment logistics also requires strict temperature control. Products do better when they stay within a set temperature range. It’s easier said than done because products have various ranges that fulfillment services need to be aware of. 

Here are some examples highlighting the importance of meeting these requirements:

  • Frozen foods: Frozen goods, like ice cream and vegetables, stay below 0°F (-18°C). This prevents thawing and maintains their quality. 
  • Chilled foods: Items like dairy, meat, and fresh produce need consistent temperatures. A range between 32°F to 41°F (0°C to 5°C) prevents bacterial growth and maintains freshness.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Medications are stored and delivered at temperatures designed to keep them effective. Many vaccines need to be between 35°F and 46°F (2°C – 8°C). Others stay well below freezing.
  • High-tech electronics: Extreme temperatures damage lithium-ion batteries and sensitive computer components. Proper temperature management during delivery prevents this damage. 

To meet the needs of all these products, companies have to have the right technology:

Continuous temperature monitoring

Advanced monitoring systems can track temperature levels in real-time. This is useful for products in storage and out for order fulfillment.

Insulated packaging and shipping containers

Employing insulated packaging materials does work to keep the required temperature range stable. The use of refrigerated shipping containers and reefer trucks will provide the best temperature control for deliveries over longer distances.

Proper handling practices

Training staff to handle cold chain products the right way helps reduce mistakes. It’s important to have the right help in keeping up with temperature requirements at every stage of the supply chain.

At the end of the day, it’s about making sure you’re meeting consumer expectations and industry standards.

Compliance with Industry Regulations and Standards

Aside from being the best thing for your customers, you also want to avoid costly fines and reputation damage. These fines change based on how serious the violation is, the agencies involved, and the industry sector. 

Some examples of fines that may impact cold chain fulfillment include: 

  • Food safety violations

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) can charge fines worth millions of dollars. The amount depends on the violation and potential harm to consumers.

  • Pharma industry violations:

Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Distribution Practice (GDP) guidelines are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These fines range from thousands to millions of dollars. You can then get hit with extra legal fees from the FDA.

  • Transportation regulation violations

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has guidelines for perishable goods traveling by air. The Department of Transportation (DOT) handles on road violations. Both can issue fines for improper handling of cold chain goods. Penalties range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.

  • Environmental penalties

There are environmental regulations related to cold chain logistics. Most of these about how to dispose of refrigerants or hazardous materials the right way. These are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Fines go up or down based on the environmental impact, the jurisdiction involved, and the company’s shipping history.

Most of the time, it’s the carrier or fulfillment center that gets charged. Under the right circumstances, these costs can get passed onto clients. Always pass along specific details to cold storage facilities and fulfillment centers. When companies have all the details, you get the best outcomes.

Close up image of a crate of packaged carrots

What Key Commodities Require Cold Chain Fulfillment?

Many industries across the globe rely on efficient and reliable refrigerated fulfillment services.

In this section, we will explore some of these key industries: 

  • Food and beverage
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Chemical  

Let’s dive into these critical commodities and discover how cold chain fulfillment makes a difference.

Food and Beverage Products

Perishable foods and drinks rely on cold chain fulfillment for freshness and quality. 

The demand for refrigerated fulfillment and even pick & pack shipping has gone up because of things like:

  • Meal kit delivery services: These companies rely on cold storage warehousing and fulfillment. They have to keep items fresh in storage and when delivering to customers’ doors.
  • Online grocery shopping: Major retailers in eCommerce and big box stores are now offering delivery options. Instead of building more stores, they are using warehouses and reefer services to expand. 
  • Cold-pressed juice companies: These companies need to make sure fruits and vegetables are at their peak. The best way to guarantee it is through reefer services.

The food industry, specialty or not, is very competitive. Anyone looking to start up a business in these areas needs to choose their partners with care. Contract with services that include temperature controlled storage, shipping, and fulfillment. 

For more information, check out our article, “Cold Chain Food Distribution: Best Practices”.

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Items

Many healthcare products require strict temperature control. Cold chain fulfillment is essential to preserve their effectiveness and safety.

Products in this industry that depend on cold chain fulfillment include:

  • Vaccines
  • Biologics
  • Insulin
  • Blood products

Large manufacturers and hospitals rely heavily on refrigerated fulfillment services. These products are often sent across long distances. Many are time-sensitive too, so speed and temperature are both important. 

Horticultural and Agricultural Goods

Big and small farms need top-notch refrigerated fulfillment services. Plants, flowers, and even seeds are transported under specific temperature conditions to stay fresh. Cold chain fulfillment can also help smaller operations compete with farming giants. It might be the only way to get their products into local and nationwide stores. 

With chilled freight shipping and fulfillment, these companies can:

  • Preserve product quality and freshness
  • Adapt to evolving consumer demands
  • Access wider global markets
  • Gain a competitive edge larger operations

Effective cold chain fulfillment help with items like berries, avocados, and other delicate produce. Quality fulfillment helps farms and the businesses that sell their products. Each benefits by keeping products in great condition to sell.  

This is even more important when you see evidence of the effect recent inflation has had on prices. People are paying more than ever for fresh products, so they want to make sure quality is high.  

Percentage Changes in Prices Paid by Customers

Product2021 % Change2022 % Change
Meat, poultry, and fish+6.8%+9.6%
Eggs+4.5%+32.2%
Dairy+1.4%+12.0%
Fresh Fruits+5.5%+7.9%
Fresh Vegetables+1.1%+7.0%
Source: USDA

Those changes end up affecting every part of the cold chain that helps deliver those products. Companies that rely on reefer services for shipping and fulfillment face greater loses than ever if things go wrong. 

Temperature-Sensitive Chemicals and Raw Materials

Some chemicals and raw materials need controlled temperatures for safe handling and stability. The raw materials used by manufacturing and chemical plants can be dangerous in the wrong environment. 

Some examples of materials that use cold chain fulfillment include:

  • Adhesives
  • Resins
  • Photography chemicals
  • Paints
  • Batteries

These items are often labeled as hazmat materials by the DOT. This makes having the right fulfillment services even more important.

Top Qualities to Look for in Refrigerated Fulfillment Centers

Choosing the right refrigerated fulfillment center is going to help your company keep up with high quality and safety standards. 

Check for these qualities in a refrigerated fulfillment company:

  • Advanced Temperature Control and Monitoring Systems
  • Efficient and Scalable Storage Solutions
  • Well-trained Staff and Robust Quality Assurance Processes
  • Strategic Location for Optimal Distribution

Picking a refrigerated fulfillment center with these top qualities means you can trust that your products will be handled the right way. This keeps your customers satisfied, and you in compliance with industry standards.

Secure Your Cold Chain Success: Partner with USA Refrigerated Freight

At USA Refrigerated Freight, we know the value of dependable cold chain fulfillment services. Our skilled team provides top-quality services customized for your business. 

We offer:

  • Refrigerated Freight Consulting: Receive expert advice on improving your cold chain methods and staying current with industry trends.
  • Access to Refrigerated Carrier Network: Our wide network of reliable refrigerated carriers provides easy and efficient transportation services.

Don’t risk your cold chain fulfillment success. Discover the difference USA Refrigerated Freight brings to your business by asking for a risk-free quote now. 

Call us at (866) 849-4923 or fill out our quote request form to start securing your cold chain fulfillment needs. Trust our expertise and let us support your business goals with confidence.

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