The fresh fruit and vegetable industry faces constant challenges from losses due to decomposition or the reduction of product quality. However, small steps can be taken to make a big difference. This was the message from Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) Guatemala director Debbie Corado, while speaking at the Produce Marketing Association's (PMA) Fresh Connections: Mexico event last week.
"In the Global Cold Chain Alliance we know the U.S. industry very well because 95% of the businesses that give storage or logistics services to third parties, are members of our association, which means they are companies who know about us and keep us up-to-date about the trends they need," Corado said to explain her entity's scope and level of exposure.
"We have 347 storage companies and 335 supplying companies, and we are present with members in 68 countries," she added.
Such a large amount of groups implies an even greater amount of people involved, and Corado emphasized how businesses needed to remember the role their employees played in improving efficiency.
"I've heard a lot now about technology and how the robotics era will displace human resources. It has been shown that this is not sure, it's a fallacy. The trend is now to focus on human resources to be more efficient," she said.
"Once you employee a team, with prepared talent, and have someone you can trust or delegate responsibility to, this allows you to be more efficient."
In this sense, she said constant training was key for developing a company, before going on to discuss the main problems seen in cold chains.
"The cold chain is really deficient in the area of transport because companies don't know the importance of keeping an adequate temperature for the product, so in the area of transport there is a major problem where the cold chain breaks in this operative sense." she said, highlighting the importance of training personnel and keeping them informed to prevent such failures due to a lack of knowledge.
"Staff training is lacking. The product really decomposes simply because new staff weren't duly trained, and they don't have the necessary preparation to know what temperature the product should be at."
On this note, Todd Construction Services Inc. president Glen Todd added the importance of undertaking good investments in the right materials to prevent damages that can end up being more costly.
He said a great difference could be made by creating good store conditions, as well as ensuring the security of doors or in loading zones.