Here in the UK, we have over 200,000 farm holdings with somewhere in the region of 107,000 farmers. The Farming industry is estimated to be worth around £9.435 million to the UK economy and, while this has dropped by 6.7% since 2019, there is still significant demand for British produce. The rise of the pandemic has put a halt to international shipments, forcing households to look closer afield for their produce and discovering hidden gems in their local countryside. Therefore, having a system in place to safely transport and deliver perishable goods is vital for the modern farmer. And, this is where refrigerated transport comes into play.

Perishable Goods Grown in the UK

Here in the UK, 80% of the cheese and beef we consume has been grown and farmed here in the UK. And, while we import the vast majority of our vegetables from overseas, the impact of Brexit and increasing fees are forcing more and more farmers to look at options for locally-grown produce. Everything from broccoli and tomatoes through to more exotic choices like quinoa, olives and apricots are now finding their place within the UK farmer’s market.

Many of the goods we grow in our own soil have a short shelf life and require special storage and transportation to get them to the end customer. In a bid to keep people shopping British, there needs to be a particular focus on the importance of delivering the freshest and most enjoyable produce to our shelves. And, maintaining consistent and well-researched temperature transportation methods is one way in which we can help.

Why a Temperature-Controlled Logistics Strategy is Vital

Success within the farming industry is based both on producing the best crops and being able to provide them to end customers and suppliers in the best condition. There is a specific need to find ways to maintain freshness and reduce the risk of spoilage during transit and storage. And, this is where temperature-controlled logistics comes into place. Working with the right team allows farmers to create a structured method that gets food to a chilled or frozen location within hours of them being picked. This maintains flavours and allows you to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.

A temperature-controlled logistics strategy helps you to tackle the practicalities of this process along with the costs. It also supports you in increasing productivity and efficiency. We have a guide entitled on temperature-controlled logistics which describes many of the key points you need to consider when deciding on the appropriate means of refrigerated transport for you.

These include factors like:

  • The products you need to be shipping (in this case, fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meats).
  • Their required temperatures and humidity ranges.
  • The acceptable risk levels (What temperature fluctuations are acceptable without risking the condition of the product?).
  • How long will you need a temperature-controlled setting?
  • How will this temperature be controlled?
  • What are the backup temperature controls and measures in place to protect against accidental or emergencies.?
  • What temperature logging and data tracking information do you need?
  • Can you reduce ‘idle time’ (the time between harvest and collection) to prioritise freshness?

Refrigerated transport is a collaboration between many different factors and becomes an entirely personalised experience for every different type of good. Farmers need to ensure that the courier service they work with can provide the consistent temperature, storage and humidity needed to help their goods stay fresh for as long as possible.

How to Work With the Right Courier Service

As with any business decision, it is important to research and fully understand the courier service you’re working with. Temperature-controlled distribution companies vary, depending on the technology they have at their disposal and the wealth of their experience. Transporting things in a frozen container is one thing. Transporting perishable goods in a correctly monitored vehicle with the right humidity and temperature, and for the exact desired time span takes it to a whole other level. Spoiled vegetables or fruits could mean the difference between making a profit and struggling. And, for an industry that is constantly fighting against the influx of international imports, this couldn’t be more important.

When choosing your courier service, take into account the question we raised above alongside:

  • What is your allocated budget?
  • Will you require multiple goods transported in a single delivery? Some vegetables, like broccoli, need to be stored at a lower temperature with high humidity while potatoes need to be well ventilated with less humidity. Can your courier service provide these in one single delivery?
  • How quickly can they pick up your goods?
  • Can you organise next day or same-day deliveries for your most perishable items?
  • Do you have the facilities on-site to cool your produce directly after harvesting to slow down the growth of pathogens?

The right courier service will have the experience and background to offer advice during every shipment. They will be on hand when you need them, with packaging solutions and a range of vehicles to suit your load size. For example, here at Iceotemp, we have 5 different types of temperature-controlled vehicles:

  • Small van (1 pallet/300kg capacity).
  • Medium van (500kg capacity).
  • Large van (900kg capacity).
  • 7.5T truck (2500kg capacity).
  • 18HGV (14 pallet/8000kg capacity).

When working with each client, we support them in choosing the right vehicle for their needs. Fresh produce is particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations. For this reason, we work towards direct transport with well-timed delivery times to help you integrate the other areas of your supply chain easily. Reducing the need to open up our temperature-controlled units during delivery keeps the internal environment consistent with digital controls that make for clear monitoring and adjustment, as needed.

In line with your strategy, we work with you to create fool-proof structures in the event of an emergency. And, backup systems that continue to maintain consistent temperature levels over a period of time. A two-way messaging system fitted within all of our vans allows us to monitor when both collections and deliveries have been made from our depot, based in Somerset. If you’re a professional farmer looking for a refrigerated transport solution to help boost your business in 2021, get in contact with the Iceotemp team here today.