In simple terms, the fresh food supply chain is the process of getting a food product from the field to the table. It starts with the producer of the food and then moves to processing before being transported to the retailer and then on to the consumer. Storage also plays a key part along the way. The logistics of the food supply chain focuses on managing each step to ensure they are effectively maintaining the freshness of the fresh food supply chain when product finally reaches the dining room table.
The process of assuring fresh product is not spoiled during its journey has become much more efficient thanks to cold chain technology. In many areas, technology has made significant impacts. In this blog, we will be taking a look at the role technology plays in the fresh food supply chain, as well as the benefits and challenges that come with cold chain technology.
The Role of Technology in the Fresh Food Supply Chain
It’s hard to imagine a fresh food supply chain without technology, and the advancements in the last decade have substantially improved how fresh food is handled from farm to fork. Let’s take a look at some areas where cold chain technology is changing the face of the fresh food supply chain.
Automation Improves Efficiency
Automation has brought broad-sweeping changes to the food supply chain. It impacts nearly everything in the chain. Starting with data entry automation and documentation assimilation, automation has cut down on entry errors and made compiling documents less burdensome. In the warehouse, robotic automation has helped many processes run faster and more efficiently.
Real-Time Revolutionizes Monitoring and Tracking
Perhaps the greatest impact in fresh food supply chain and logistics is thanks to advancements in visibility solutions. With new cold chain technology that makes temperature monitors more efficient and accurate, all parties involved in the supply chain — shippers, carriers, third-party providers, and customers — can track exactly how the product is doing in real-time. New systems can also send alerts to laptops or cellphones when there is a potentially dangerous temperature fluctuation.
Analytics Takes Forecasting to a New Level
Technology platforms are amassing more extensive amounts of data all the time. But having that data and having the ability to make it digestible for managers and employees are two different things. Thanks to advancements in analytics, there are systems that can break down data for easier consumption. With real-time tracking and analytics, forecasting has leaped from the days of looking only at historical sales lists to having much deeper analytics that can provide a bird’s eye view of today’s competitive landscape. This helps highlight where changes can be made or where more emphasis needs to be directed.
The Benefits of Technology in the Fresh Food Supply Chain
We’ve established that technology makes the fresh food supply chain faster and more efficient, but there are several other specific benefits to implementing cold chain technology as well:
With cold chain technology making fresh food transportation more efficient and swift, there is less chance of product spoilage in transit. This reduces food waste while on the truck and provides the consumer with a product they will have time to consume rather than tossing it out because it is “too old.”
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
With technology at the forefront, the fresh food supply chain is reaching new heights in pleasing the customer. First, the speed of the supply chain means the consumer is getting the product sooner. And these days, how quickly you can get the product to the customer is becoming a significant factor in satisfaction. Second, the product is reaching its final destination in a fresher state which means a more appealing and sellable product.
When products arrive faster and fresher, in part because of technology, everyone in the supply chain cashes in — literally. The products look good, so they are selling well, which means more sales for the grocery or restaurant. The transportation of the products is more efficient, so there is less time spent idling when a communication breakdown happens between the warehouse and truck or between other parties, so money and resources are not being wasted.
The Challenges of Technology in the Fresh Food Supply Chain
The benefits of adding new technology to the fresh food supply chain are tremendous, but there are also a few challenges. Here’s a look at three challenges that may come with moving your business into the new technological age:
- Cost of implementation: Like any new technology venture, there will be initial costs for a new product and setting it up. Consider how quickly a technology will deliver ROI.
- Training workers: New technology inherently demands training on new systems and processes, so staff knows how to run, monitor, and manage them. Fortunately, this is a short-term challenge that ultimately leads to increased efficiency and productivity.
- Security risks: New technology can leave companies exposed to cybersecurity threats — data breaches, malware, and ransomware to name a few. It is important to make sure all of your partners have compliance standards and that your security controls allow in only those employees that are important to the running of the system.
Hwy Haul is Just the Fresh Face You Need
For the fresh food supply chain and logistics, new technology is a must. Automation, real-time monitoring, and insightful analytics make your products’ journey significantly more efficient and faster. To make your business stay as fresh as possible, however, you need the right partner.
Hwy Haul is a leading digital freight platform for fresh produce. With real-time visibility, actionable data insights, and dedicated support, Hwy Haul can help you evaluate and optimize your fresh food supply chain. Hwy Haul leverages leading technology and automated processes to simplify operations, keep costs low, and provide greater transparency than other marketplaces. If you are ready to take your business to another level, check out our website.