An Intelleflex Corp. test recently revealed a 30% temperature difference for pallets of fresh berries in a single refrigerated trailer.
The test with an unnamed North American berry producer tracked the temperature of hundreds of pallets of berries as they traveled from Mexican growing fields to a packinghouse and cold storage facility in Mexico. The test then tracked the pallets to three distribution centers in the U.S., said Kevin Payne, senior director of marketing for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intelleflex.
ProWare Services of Plant City, Fla., a software development company also participated, with its FreshAware software calculating shelf life of the berries.
Intelleflex temperature monitoring tags went into the pallets in the fields during harvest. Temperatures were recorded every 15 minutes from the field to the packinghouse. The berries traveled between one and four hours to the packinghouses and temperatures varied significantly based on the time of day they were harvested.
At the packinghouse, data from the tags determined each pallet’s remaining shelf life. The pallets were prioritized and shipped accordingly. About a third needed priority treatment to ensure they would be fresh upon delivery, Payne said in a news release.
The next phase of the test tracked pallet temperatures of berries in refrigerated trailers. Intelleflex found as much as a 30% difference between the pallets and the ambient temperature in the trailers. During a five-day trip, about 13% of the pallets in a single trailer warmed to more than 40 degrees, despite the trailer temperature being set for 35 degrees.
Some of the berries on the five-day trip actually lost nine days of shelf life, according to Intelleflex data. Consequently, those berries were again prioritized and sent to final destinations closer to the distribution center to maximize value.
“Perhaps the greatest value of the study has been in providing information that enables growers, packers and shippers to work within their existing cold chain infrastructure,” said Steve Dean, general manager of ProWare Services.