Airfreight steps in to grab more perishable logistics share

Air cargo accounts for not even 1 percent of the total global food supply chain but these perishable goods along with flowers constitute 17 percent of the total air freight. When Covid-19 struck the entire global supply chain, it was air cargo that stepped in fulfil the demand created by panic buying and lockdowns. Now it seems like air cargo will continue this momentum in the coming months of peak season.

The Nobel Peace Prize of 2020 went to the World Food Programme (WFP) “for its efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict,” as it reasoned. In a world where a peace prize goes for the distribution of food, points to the fact that they are not the luxury of the market but the very need for the peaceful coexistence of human beings. Still, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes, and it lists temperature excursions and bad handling as along top reasons for this.  

Perishable logistics market
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “perishable foods are those likely to spoil, decay or become unsafe to consume if not kept refrigerated at 40 F° (4.4 °C) or below, or frozen at 0 F° (-17.8 °C) or below.”

As per an article published in Science Magazine last year, only 0.16 percent of the total food miles come from air travel while ocean moves 58.97 percent, road carry 30.97 percent and rail carry 9.9 percent. However, the perishable market is an essential vertical in the airfreight industry and accounts for roughly 17 percent of the total global air cargo.

Logistics dilemma
Moving perishable commodities like fruits, vegetables, dairy, frozen, fish, meat, seafood and even flowers is one of the complex riddles in the logistics industry as many of these commodities require temperature-controlled environment, shorter transit time due to tight shelf life and less competitiveness compared to other commodities. On one side the market has to move perishables as fast they can from the origin to the target destination on the other it also has to think about freight rates.

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