Transporting vegetables & fruits requires extra care
“The transport of vegetables and fruits from Kerala for Onam celebrations in the Middle East is a significant achievement for Emirates SkyCargo as special arrangements had to be made to operate freighter aircrafts from Thiruvananthapuram and Kochiairports which normally are not equipped to handle freighter aircrafts.
Finnair said the most perishable items they transport, include Papaya, Baby Corn, Lemon Grass, Rambutan, Longan, Chillies, etc.
Norwegian Cargo sees huge opportunities in perishable shipments as they fly state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliners that have temperature control capabilities to optimise the shelf life of fresh goods and serve as a growing network of important hubs where perishables such as fresh fish is sourced.
“We're able to make fast shipments of fresh salmon, shellfish and halibut from northern Norway to the US East Coast by the evening using our narrow body capacity which then connects on to our widebody transatlantic services. With this in mind, using our GSA at Oslo Airport, Aviation Plus, we are working to ship more volumes of perishables as we continue to deliver a strong proposition for our customers,” said a Norwegian Cargo spokesperson who asked not to be named.
The most challenging perishable cargoes Lufthansa flew in 2015 are all kinds of berries, cherries, papayas, mangoes and beans and mixed vegetables.
All fruits and vegetables require optimum temperatures during transit and storage which are dependent upon varietal, climatic and other details of the produce.
Oliver Blum, Lufthansa Cargo Head of Operations Fresh/td Handling & Cross Functions, said , “We provide controlled temperature on board our freighters and wide-body aircraft.
Temperature-sensitive ground handling, including reducing weather and climate effects through the fastest possible transportation to and from the aircraft are also part of the special handling of perishable goods . Moreover, we offer storage in Europe's largest refrigerated warehouse, the Perishable Center Frankfurt at our Lufthansa Cargo Hub Frankfurt.”
Hawaiian Airlines physically and systematically identifies and labels fruits and vegetables before transportation.
Brad Matheny, Senior Director at Hawaiian Airlines, notes, “We mark shipments with a commodity code so we can easily identify their contents and handle accordingly”.
Apart from the services, Lufthansa also provides parking positions in Frankfurt directly in front of the Perishable Center to reduce the tarmac times to a minimum.
“The face life, as well as the shelf-life (and its prolongation) of the product is in the focus of our most important activities. To keep e.g. the flowers and plants or fruits and vegetables in good condition and to even extend the shelf life the joint optimization of the transport and co-operation of all involved supply-chain partners is getting more and more important, beginning at the farm until delivery to the consumer. The packaging for the entire transport needs to compensate exposures to unfavorable temperature and weather conditions for limited periods of time throughout the transportation. With Freshtd Lufthansa Cargo provides a predominantly temperature - controlled environment during flight and storage and handling by experienced personnel,” said Blum.
David Kerr, Senior Vice President of Etihad Cargo notes, “In the Middle East, we long for the winter when the temperature drops – our challenge is throughout the summer months with their extreme temperatures. During the hot months, we need to ensure the fruit and vegetable shipments move swiftly between aircraft and handling facilities to as not to compromise the cool chain.
“We monitor the temperature in the bellyhold of the aircraft and ensure the pallet is not sitting on the ramp for too long during loading and offloading. Then, inside the warehouse, they are stored in temperature controlled areas until they are ready for their next flight or collection by the consignee (usually in temperature controlled trucks)”.
Etihad Airways uses several options available at the shippers' request, including Environtainers, active temperature-controlled containers for air cargo; pre-cooled thermo blanket protection and cool dollies.
However, in cooperation with the Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF), Lufthansa uses a vacuum-cooling for flowers in Frankfurt.
This is an offer which is preferably used for flowers which do have an overall long transport time, coming from South America or Africa and facing again a long transport from Frankfurt to their final destination.
The Vacuum-cooler can cool down two PMC pallets (96x125 inches) in just 30 minutes; a rapid yet gentle cooling is advantageous for the lifespan of sensitive, perishable goods such as flowers. Additionally, the Fast-cooler is often used for fruits during transit in Frankfurt.
Hawaiian Airlines uses data loggers to run tests of their supply chain, but not on per shipment basis.
Infrastructure and solutions
The customer needs to deliver the goods on a pallet ready for carriage, and the shipper/ agent will be responsible for the packaging which is most suitable for the entire transport.
Lufthansa provides controlled temperature on board its freighters and wide-body aircraft and offers storage in Europe's largest refrigerated warehouse, the Perishable Center Frankfurt at its Lufthansa Cargo Hub Frankfurt.
Emirates SkyCargo has superior cool chain capabilities to connect two very distant points on the globe for temperature sensitive perishables. Some of its innovative product offerings developed by its team, include, the White Cover - Innovative protection product for temperature sensitive shipments. The white cover is designed to shield temperature sensitive cargo from solar heat during transportation.
It is water resistant, yet breathable, ideal for 'living' food and flower products, environmentally friendly and 100 percent recyclable. It allows for cooling of the shipment during transportation and cold storage. On application, it completely encloses the shipments and weighs no more than three kilograms.
“Our product development team invented a new temperature controlled container which we named 'White Container'. It is coated on the inside with thermal Insulators to counteract high temperatures in Dubai and help preserve temperature sensitive cargo, including fruits and vegetables but also pharmaceuticals. “We continue to develop innovative solutions working closely with our customers. We have a number of new and exciting developments in the pipeline,” affirms Al Falahi.
All airlines handling perishable products follow IATA's Perishable Cargo Regulations, and according to them, all staff handling perishable items are regularly well trained and per IATA's handling procedure guidance. Howe v e r, E t i h a d c a r g o i s v e r y cognisant of the special handling required for temperature sensitive cargo, particularly the importance of maintaining the cool environment in which they are stored.