In perishable logistics, time is of the essence to ensure produce, flowers, fish, and other products reach their destinations while they still offer maximum appeal and shelf life. As a result, many of these goods move via air.
But the potential complications of shipping perishables via air are legion: The trans-Atlantic airfreight space for a produce shipment is booked—but the peppers aren’t ready for harvest. Top New York chefs are writing premium Icelandic cod into their menus in anticipation of delivery—but the fish is sitting in a fog-induced backlog at the Keflavik airport. Holland tulips are loaded into the belly of a passenger aircraft—but then the pilot orders several coolers pulled off to free up weight for extra fuel.
The uncertainty inherent in grown or caught product—combined with the potential vagaries of air transport—means managing perishable logistics demands specific expertise. « The greatest challenge is to maintain the cold chain, which varies from product to product, » says Alvaro Carril, senior vice president of sales and marketing for LAN Cargo, a cargo airline based in Santiago, Chile, and a subsidiary of LAN Airlines. LAN Cargo transports salmon and fruit from Chile, asparagus from Peru, and flowers from Ecuador and Colombia to the U.S. market.