While TransFresh Corp. devotes plenty of resources to preparing fresh berries for in-transit travel to destinations far and wide, it also has specialists at the docks to evaluate product when it is ready to come off the truck.
“We continue to be involved with tracking the product and how it is doing upon arrival,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., known for its Tectrol® Service Network that provides covering for palletized product infused with CO2 (carbon dioxide), extending the quality of life for perishable items such as berries.
With of the projects of TransFresh is partnering with the Scotland based company, Insignia Technologies that manufactures temperature sensitive labels that go on cartons.
“What’s really intriguing about their technology is rather than it being a temperature switch, i.e., if a particular carton senses a temperature of 50 degrees F. or higher at anytime, it will change color,” Macleod observes.
For example if a carton of berries is unloaded off the truck at destination, and it is showing a little warmer temperature verses other cartons, it can be put another truck for faster store delivery before other product with cooler temperatures. The same theory applies even at the retail store level. If a produce manager sees a color change with a carton, he knows it should be put in a display case to be sold before other products.
“This can help maintain quality and reduce shrink with product, and the customer ‘experience'”, Macleod says. “So we have been doing a lot of work in this area to improve the technology. Lots of people are wanting to try it, but it is still in its infancy. It usually requires me, or one of my associates to be there for the testing. We’re probably another year away from announcing something on this.”
This research is unique, Macleod notes, because the visual color change with the carton reveals any “abuse” of the product, anywhere along the shipping point to destination.
“In the transportation (in-transit) portion, we’re going to give them (drivers) a lot of leeway. The color changes won’t be changing until the product hits the retail store,” Macleod says. “So this is a product we are working on and it is coming. I see a huge upside to that, because there are concerns about food safety and temperature. This may allow us to identify that random carton,” he concludes. — Bill Martin
(This is last of a III-Part series based on an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp, Salinas, CA. He has been with the company 40 years and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)