If you have ever walked through a grocery store or supermarket, you have likely encountered rows of refrigerators containing frozen or refrigerated items. These items include foods, drinks, and even medications. Such items were likely transported using a supplier or third party logistics company that utilized cold storage.
The truth is cold storage plays a greater role in food logistics than you would think. Let’s examine how this form of storage is used and answer the question, “How Does Cold Storage Help With Food Logistics?”
What is Cold Storage?
Before we get to the main topic, it is worth learning what exactly cold storage is and how it works. There is no set definition for what constitutes “cold storage”. This term is often used interchangeably with chilled storage, frozen storage, cool rooms, or refrigerated storage. However, each of these terms essentially mean the same thing, which is storage of goods in refrigerated or chilled environments.
Types of Cold Storage Systems
There are many different types of cold storage systems used by suppliers and third-party logistics providers. This includes:
Refrigerated containers are the most popular type of cold storage system. They are typically used for small quantities of items that must be kept in a temperature controlled environment. These containers offer the advantage of being transportable, making them an important tool in supply chains.
Cold rooms are large refrigerators or blast freezers that are room-sized. They can accommodate larger items than refrigerated containers and are typically used to store items before transportation.
Chillers are large storage units designed to accommodate a large number of items. Chillers are typically used to keep items chilled once they reach their target destination, such as a restaurant.
Pharmaceutical Cold Storage Warehouses
Pharmaceutical cold storage warehouses are large warehouses with built- in cold storage technologies. They are typically used to store temperature-sensitive medicines, vaccines, and blood bags. Such warehouses are generally used in hospitals and other types of medical facilities.
Cold Storage Warehouses
Cold storage warehouses are special warehouses that are attached to a manufacturing or processing plant. They typically receive products on conveyor belts and are frequently used in places such as the frozen seafood industry.
Dedicated Cold Storage Facilities
Dedicated cold storage facilities are special cold storage facilities typically provided by third party logistics (3PL) companies. These are generally used by companies with specific cold storage needs and who require their very own custom cold storage room.
How Does Cold Storage Help with Food Logistics?
Cold storage helps in food logistics in a number of ways. This includes:
Protecting Against Temperature and Moisture Changes
Modern cold storage facilities have features to control both the temperature and moisture levels inside the facility. This helps protect food items from extreme temperature changes that would otherwise occur in the outside environment. For example, an ice cream manufacturer will need a cold storage facility to keep their items at subzero temperatures or risk their products being ruined while in storage.
Such manufacturers can ensure their products remain intact and well by hiring a third party logistics company with access to cold storage during transportation and intermediate destinations.
Functioning As Extra Storage
Space tends to be a valuable resource in food logistics. After all, suppliers need a place to store their intermediate or finished goods before having them shipped off to their destination. Cold storage units offer this extra storage space.
The temperature of a cold storage unit can also be adjusted easily. This means the supplier can store different types of food products such as vegetables or frozen seafood inside the storage unit depending on their exact needs.
Every food item has a certain shelf life after which it can no longer be sold. For some items, this may be the “sell by” date on the packaging. In other cases, it may be the food item’s actual physical condition. For example, many people pick out fruits and vegetables at the supermarket based on their physical condition and are unlikely to purchase one that has spoiled.
While most fruits and vegetables naturally age and decay once they have been plucked from their vine or from the ground, this process can be slowed down with the help of cold storage. For this reason, many suppliers keep their fruits and vegetables in refrigerated facilities before and during transportation.
Cold storage can also help prevent foods from spoiling if there is an unexpected delay in the transportation process. For example, a third party supplier with a cold storage unit won’t have to worry about the goods in their care spoiling if one of their transport trucks has broken down or if there are no drivers available to ship the goods the same day.
In such situations, these goods can sit in cold storage for a day or two without degrading significantly before reaching their destination.
As mentioned above, most customers are unwilling to purchase food items that have spoiled. By storing and transporting food items in cold storage units, suppliers ensure the percentage of spoiled foods is minimized. Therefore, this also minimizes the amount of unsold product that must be thrown out, which helps save costs.
Such cost savings can be crucial for suppliers and manufacturers with thin profit margins. For this reason, food product manufacturers should go with a third party logistics company with access to cold storage.
Why Choose 3PL Bridge?
Individuals and businesses seeking a third party logistics company with cold storage capabilities can’t go wrong by choosing 3PL Bridge. We offer services for small businesses, enterprises, and warehouse providers who need a helping hand with their supply chain.
Our experts are trained to handle items in and out of our cold storage facilities and ensure your products reach their destination in great shape. Please contact us to learn more about our cold storage capabilities.