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Published: 7 October 2014      

Eye on the cold chain

Andy Connell from Dole South Africa calls for better cargo management and less political interference in cold chain logistics.

Andy Connell, Business Manager Special Projects & Industry Affairs, Dole South Africa, has called for handling skills in the perishables cargo chain to be ratcheted up and pleaded for governments not to interfere with the free movement of goods.

“It is the last and first mile of the supply chain where the greatest damage can occur and if supermarkets treat all perishables as homogenous products, as they often do, then we will always see wastage and even unsafe food in the system,” he told delegates at the Cool Logistics Global conference held in Rotterdam last week.

“People in this business need to be better educated and shipping lines, in particular, need to work much harder to improve their efficiencies and help build effective, safe and secure end-to-end cold chains,” added Connell, who thinks this should also contribute to better levels of profitability in the industry.

 “It’s simple maths at the end of the day,” he said. “No profit means no growth and so in this regard I see carrier profitability as being pivotal to sustainable cold chain operations and services. But we need competition too as this keeps prices in check and stimulates innovation.”

In his opening address, Connell also had strong words for the politicians who he said “did not belong in logistics”. 

“How can one stimulate growth when food safety gets mixed up with politics and protectionism,” said Connell. “Food and politics have always been tangled and we have to work around it and it adds to the industry’s costs.” 

Connell’s answer in dealing with such problems is for “companies to dig deep and identify where the protectionism stems from”.  He said: “Parties then need to assess whether the issues can be solved and if they can’t to move on and find new markets for their products.”

This year has seen several disputes affect the perishable products trades with the most severe being the early-August decision of  the Russian Government to ban various fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish imports from the European Union, Norway, US, Canada and Australia. This has resulted in huge disruption to volumes moving and equipment used in the global cold chain while raising costs for farmers, producers and service providers alike.

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