The pandemic is showing signs of stabilizing. World economies are slowly inching toward recovery. Yet even in the midst of this hope, shippers in food logistics continue to face extreme challenges. When transporting food, shipping guidelines are among the most stringent. That’s why in-transit visibility is no longer a “nice to have” convenience—it’s a requirement. And not just for the shippers. Brokers, carriers and 3PL partners also need to be plugged into the same advanced visibility capabilities to monitor food shipments from the warehouse to final destination. It takes a team effort to stay compliant with FSMA regulations, protect company reputations and keep customers’ trust by delivering on time and in full. Anything less is unacceptable.

The current state of the food logistics industry demands all supply chain stakeholders utilize the latest technologies to monitor and manage shipments of perishable and nonperishable food and beverages in real time. Challenges abound when shipping food, but shippers who optimize in-transit visibility experience the benefits of having improved real-time data and updates regarding the location and condition of shipments.

The Current State of Food Logistics

The food logistics supply chain is rife with waste. According to the Global Cold Chain Alliance, “one-third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted between farm and fork.” That equates to about $1 trillion dollars worth of food—yes, that’s trillion with a T—that ends up in landfills annually. U.S. grocery retailers estimate that $18 billion of food arrives at their stores spoiled and unusable.

According to Food Safety Tech, a digital community for food industry professionals, “Transport losses in a fresh food cold chain are primarily related to temperature and humidity excursions, caused by delayed/improper cooling or refrigeration equipment failure. The biggest problem is not always the lack of data, but rather the lack of timely data that can be used to correct anomalies in time to prevent spoilage.” This is where using single-use and multi-use trackers to capture data and trigger alerts in real-time can add tremendous value.

Other factors such as a lack of capacity both on land and at sea, the unprecedented congestion at ports around the world, and the increasing trend of using multimodal transportation are contributing to delays, damaged products, and increased costs for shippers. Fluctuations in consumer demand resulting from ongoing COVID spikes are also impacting food-shipping efforts to grocers and restaurateurs.

Who Needs Better Visibility in Food Shipping?

Shippers who are moving anything that is perishable can benefit from optimizing in-transit visibility. Items in the cold chain, such as frozen foods, dairy, meats, poultry, and seafood obviously need to be monitored for location and temperature. Knowing the exact moment a temperature excursion occurs would enable shippers to make the necessary adjustments to save the shipment. However, there are other industries and products that also need to be tracked closely, including fresh produce, bakery and grains, wine, alcohol and other beverages, to name a few.

The Challenges of Getting Visibility in Food Shipping

Getting an end-to-end, top-down approach to in-transit visibility in food logistics  is absolutely critical but not always easy to achieve, for a number of reasons:

  • The right packaging costs: Maintaining the right packaging and conditions to ensure quality increases cost significantly.
  • Connectivity must be consistent: Tracking sensors are only as good as the underlying GPS/WiFi/5G/4G/LTE/2G fallback connectivity.
  • Safety and security issues: Lives could be endangered if a spoiled shipment somehow makes it through to store shelves or a restaurant’s kitchen.
  • Data silos prevent sharing: Shippers, carriers, and 3PLs are probably collecting data in the food logistics supply chain, but there is no guarantee this data is reliable or sharable.  What’s needed is one set of clean, standardized data accessible through a single pane of truth in real-time.

The Benefits of Having Greater Visibility in Food Logistics

Proactive companies are using established and emerging technologies to gain a deeper level of visibility into food logistics and food shipping. These visibility solutions extend well beyond location track-and-trace capabilities to control costs while solving operational challenges, enhancing efficiencies, driving increased productivity, and ensuring compliance to all rules and regulations along the way. Greater visibility into the food supply chain also helps shippers in the following ways:

  • Allows management by exception: Trackers will alert shippers of specific temperature-controlled shipments that require attention.
  • Promotes proactive planning: Detailed records of location, temperature and other data points can be used to identify trends of excursions.
  • Drives greater collaboration: Strategize more effectively with carriers and 3PL partners across the food logistics supply chain to drive improvements, efficiencies and accountability.
  • Experience peace of mind: Shippers can rest easier knowing that customized real-time alerts will trigger while in-transit so mitigation efforts can begin.
  • Enhances customer experiences: Optimizing fulfillment lead times and the ability to mitigate exceptions in real time for food shipping food will help increase the percentage of OTIF orders — which makes for happier customers and greater brand loyalty.

Eliminate Preventable Delays and Damage with Tive

Shippers, it’s time to take the lead in eliminating waste in food logistics. The best way to do that is by constantly looking at innovative new technologies in food logistics and food shipping. Multi-sensor trackers and software from Tive provide the transparency and real-time actionable data needed to make sure food is delivered on time and in good condition. To learn more about how Tive’s world-class solutions can help you, schedule a demo today.

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