Posts Tagged “pallets”
Hauling fresh produce tends to provide much higher freight rates than dry freight, obviously because of the perishability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the extra care required with temperature, humdity, air circulation in the load, etc.
The higher risk to which truckers are exposed, also includes the possibilites of claims that reduce a driver’s pay check, or even worse, having the load rejected.
The degree of exposure to problems upon arrival at destination can depend on the honesty and integrity of the parties involved. Did the shipper pre-cool the product? Did the driver maintain proper temperature settings? Did the buyer or receiver pay too much for that product five days ago when the order was placed, and now the fruit on the market is worth $2 a box less? All of these examples can lead to claims or rejections with produce loads.
There have been studies over the years including the recent one titled Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport which provides some interesting information. For example, this research concludes that TransFresh Corp’s Tectrol process reduces fruit decay by increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in pallets covered by bags.
With CO2 levels increased by 11 to 16 percent, Tectrol beats its competitors in the important area of decay in strawberries by up to seven percent following delivery and two days on the shelf.
So how does this translate into a reduction in claims and load rejections for the produce trucker, if there is less decay in product being transported?
“That’s an interesting equation,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. , Salinas, CA. “No one will ever talk about that. No one gives us their data. We’ve never been able to prove that (fewer claims, rejected loads), because we get it (information) by hersay.”
Macleod says experienced drivers know if they pick up a load of strawberries covered with bags, they are confident there will be no problems with that load. The expert in controlled atmosphere loads has been told by retailers “…their strawberry program is much easier” since using Tectrol.
However, when he asks that customer for data relating to load rejection and claims for strawberries comparing shipments with and without CO2 infused bagged pallets, he hits a stone wall. Those receivers acknowledge the benefits of Tectrol, but refuse to provide any statistics.
(This is the last of a 6-part series featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)
The study was conducted by the University of California, Davis and The University of Florida.
While a primary goal of the study is to find better ways to have produce with better quality and flavor delivered from the field to the kitchen shelf, transportation plays a key role in this.
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. describes this as a “global process” where it must be considered that actions taken during the entire handling process can influence even the best varieties of product that end up in the hands of the consumer.
“The study confirms my private belief, plus our private research over the years,” he says. “If you do these processes correctly; cool it, transport correctly with good temperature control, with a CO2 atmosphere, you are going to deliver better fruit to the consumer.”
In the report, it details strawberry shipments with palletized loads covered with bags and carbon dioxide (CO2). The transcontential shipments compared the modified atmosphere shipments of CO2 West, PEAKfresh, PrimePro and Tectrol (TransFresh).
The results of the study may show why Tectrol is the dominant supplier of bagged, controlled atmosphere shipments out of California. Macleod says over half of the California harvested strawberries in California are shipped using the Tectrol process by TransFresh. California also grows and ships the vast majority of the nation’s strawberries.
The summary of the study’s findings probably explains why many strawberries look great when shipped and still are beautiful when displayed in your local supermarket. However, how many times have you purchased strawberries in the store and no sooner get home and notice quality problems occuring (a common experience with yours truely, the purveyor of this website)?
The study summarizes, “The Tectrol cover was sealed to the pallet base, a partial vacuum was applied, and pressurized CO2 gas was injected inside….CO2 concentrations within pallets at the beginning and end of transport were higher (11% to 16%) in the sealed Tectrol system and relatively low (.06% to .30% in the open CO2 West, PEAKfresh and PrimePro cover systems.”
Continuing, the report states, “The incident of fruit decay was low (1% to 1.4%) after transport, but increased substantially following a 2-day shelf life at 68 degrees. However, fruit from the Tectrol pallets exhibited significantly less decay (36%) after shelf life than the CO2 West (39%), non covered (pallets)(41%), PrimePro (42%) and PEAKfresh (43%).”
(This is Part 3 0f 5, featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)
When hauling the more perishable produce items such as strawberries, knowing your reefer unit, maintaining proper temperature and taking a pulp temperature at shipping point becomes even more critical. Doing things right results in delivering a better product to your customers, as well as reducing claims and load rejections.
These points are among some important findings in a study released last year, Comparison of Pallet Cover Systems to Maintain Strawberry Fruit Quality During Transport. As the title indicates, the study compares modified air controlled strawberry shipments using carbon dioxide (CO2).
Following up on that report, HaulProduce.com had an extensive interview with Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, whose product Tectrol came out looking pretty darn good when compared with competing companies offering controlled atmosphere bags covering palletized loads of strawberries.
The project was a combined effort of the University of California, Davis and the University of Florida in conjunction with the USDA.
“What this (study) demonstrates is when you put a bag over the pallet, you are going to get some in-transit warming,” Macleod observes. “It doesn’t matter whether it is a Tectrol (application) or somebody else’s bag because the warming is about the same for all of them.”
Where Tectrol shined in the study was the quality of the berries upon arrival after the cross country hauls from California to the east coast.
But back to the issue of in-transit warming. Rich points out when a palletized load is entirely bagged, the driver has to account for warming when adjusting the refrigeration unit set points accordingly at a colder temperature than if the load were “naked.”
He says, “I believe you can run a fully bagged Tectrol load (of strawberries) at 30 degrees F. if your (reefer) unit is well calibrated and your unit was built within the past four years.”
However, realistically Macleod knows most drivers prefer a 36-degree F. setting. As they become more familar with these type of loads they find out one can drop the setting to 34 or even 32 degrees.
“They (drivers) should not have issues with warmer product, if it is bagged. And they should not have any issues with frozen product. There are a number of drivers that have been incredibly successful handling Tectrol loads at 32 degrees F., but they know their units inside out and have them calibrated. They know what the floors are and the coldest temperatures that unit will be. Thirty-two degrees is a reasonable compromise.”
Macleod stressed that even if the fruit has been properly pre-cooled, carriers have to realize those bagged pallets will increase the temperature.
In fact the study itself points out in shipments with non covered pallets, the clamshell packaged strawberries remained at 32 to 35 degrees F. However, pallets covered with bags resulted in the temperature increase of three to four degrees by the time it arrived at destination.
“The rise in temperature during shipments indicate the trailers were unable to maintain the recommended 32 degrees F….” the study states.
What can a driver do if the pallets are already covered with CO2 filled bags upon arrival at the dock?
Although it is too late for a visual inspection of what is being loaded by the driver, Macleod says, “a well run (shipping) company should allow the driver to take a pulp temperature and they (shipper) should provide tape to reseal that hole (made by the driver to take the pulp temperature). It is a common practice and shippers respect that.”
(This is Part 2 0f 5, featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)
The Broomfield, CO-based company introduced the new UHF tag at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit, last month in Anaheim, Calif.
The ultra-thin tag has a button that can be pressed to start and/or mark temperature data at multiple points during a product’s cold chain journey. If the temperature is out of range a red light blinks. A green light displays if programmed parameters have been maintained, the news release states.
The new tags are effective from about -20 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Thousands of time and temperature points can be logged to help manage food safety. They can be attached to packages, cases, or pallets.
The product has microprocessors allowing for a variety of calculations including remaining shelf life, mean kinetic temperature and multi-parameter alarms. Custom product configurations are written to each tag and are easily updated in the field.