Based on a series of trials that track exports from the farm to the table, The Cool Chain Association (CCA) will draft best practice handling procedures for perishables.
Undertaken by CCA partner the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB), the trails tracked Sunshine Conebush flower consignments packed on-farm in South Africa for export to destinations in the Netherlands and Germany.
To monitor variations in cold chain conditions, Air temperature loggers were placed in two consignments and sent two days apart.
Flower consignments were packed in boxes and palletised on-farm then loaded on a refrigerated truck before taking a two-hour journey to the courier service provider.
The consignments were exported the next day to Europe.
Results revealed that mean temperatures reached 10.4°c and 9.3°c for the two consignments, considerably higher than the 5°c recommended for cut flowers.
Although on arrival the flowers were in acceptable condition, their vase life will have been affected by this temperature excursion.
“Quality handling practices and cool chain management are an integrated process that cannot be reviewed in isolation and this trial already shows that post-harvest handling and the first mile of every product plays an important role in determining a product’s quality.Future PPECB trials will also include a focus on the final mile of the product from when the consumer makes the purchase and takes it home.”Vijan Chetty, CCA board member and general manager, PPECB
Now PPECB will undertake trials to include other fast moving perishable items such as berries, and will move on to compare the cool chain, shelf life, and quality of commodities moved by air versus sea.
After a thorough review of the research trials and analysis of the activities of stakeholders within the value chain CCA will identify possible risk areas, in order to draft a best practice handling procedure for perishable products.