Cold chain management in the food industry has experienced enormous challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic. From field to fork, the food industry continues to manage disruptions and bottlenecks with resilience. Now that it seems the worst has passed, the industry’s pivot points may have left a lasting legacy when it comes to streamlined processes, traceability, and supply chain monitoring.
Cold chain management in food industry challenges
The need for smarter processes
From labour disruptions to logistical bottlenecks and managing supply and demand, the root of the COVID-19 cold chain challenges lies with people. When people and cargo cannot move, so emerges the risk of a standstill. Myriad challenges stem from lockdown scenarios, but one thing is clear: it has forced us to change how we work and how we eat to address all the potential disruption points along the supply chain. Food supply chains require precision and speed in delivering food to market, highlighting the need for smarter, technology-based systems.
Increased risk of food waste and shortages
COVID-19 has also affected demand. This, in turn, has a knock-on effect when it comes to cold chain management in the food chain. While, on the one hand, perishables run the risk of waste, in other parts of the world, the risk of food shortages becomes a reality. This is especially the case in third world countries.
Worries around the movement of safe, healthy foods
The World Bank has said that food insecurity as a result of COVID is attributable to supply chain disruptions rather than actual food shortages. This has exacerbated a pre-existing problem around providing a steady supply of healthy, nutritious food to feed a growing world population. According to the World Food Programme, 73 million people in Africa have become food insecure as a result of COVID-19.
Increased food prices
Additionally, meeting new protocols come at an increased cost to suppliers. This, in turn, translates into increased food prices. According to the World Bank, we have seen food prices increase by 20% between January 2020 and January 2021
Smart solutions for cold chain management in the food industry
According to a report by Bayer, we can expect cold chain management in the food chain to become a data-based operation. Automation, robotics, and the use of data insights to create optimal supply chain models and forecasting have proven to be an effective change during COVID-19.
Deloitte has also stated that the solution to problems in cold chain management in the food chain may be solved by end-to-end supply chain management, with a focus on digital processes. This has the effect of reducing the reliance on manual labour. It also stands to mitigate bottlenecks through real-time data alerts, as well as long-term fine-tuning of systems around accurate, granular data insights.
For many, the thought of COVID-19 and the food chain conjures thoughts of panic buying. By providing consumers with real-time data readings of stock levels, predictions, etc., the buying process is driven by transparency. Improved traceability also serves to increase consumer confidence.
Through a smart system of tags, sensors, pressure pads, and gateways, Smarter Technologies Group provides smart solutions to directly meet the challenges of cold chain management in the food chain. Ideal for preserving perishables, these solutions report on undesirable temperature fluctuations in real time. These solutions can be implemented throughout the supply chain for end-to-end visibility of foodstuffs from when they leave the farm to when they end up in your shopping basket.
This is both cost-saving and time-saving, with notable advantages for compliance reporting and improved shelf life of goods.