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Peculiarities of Perishable Goods Transportation

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), in 2018 the value of food exports amounted to almost 1.4 trillion US dollars. Fruits and vegetables accounted for 23% of the total export value, followed by cereals and preparations, which accounted for 14%, whereas meat and fish each had a share of 11%. The United States of America, China and The Netherlands made the top three of largest exporters of food products.

Types of Perishable Foods

Perishable commodities are food products or supplements that require special storage and transportation to maintain their quality and ensure safe consumption. Failure to comply with the established conditions leads to quality deterioration and causes severe and irreparable damage. Perishable products include meat and poultry products, fish and seafood products, milk and egg based byproducts, raw fruits and vegetables, drinks, semi-finished products and frozen ready-made meals, flowers, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

Transportation of Perishable Goods

It is not an easy task to keep fruits and vegetables from importing countries in an excellent condition until they reach the final point of distribution. According to FAO statistics, about a third of all food products are lost or wasted during harvesting, packaging, transportation or during trade, which annually makes up a loss of 1 trillion US dollars. Food loss can be associated with management and technical processes, such as non-compliance with temperature limits, improper storage, packaging and labeling of goods. In order to avoid spoilage of a large volume of cargo, small test batches of goods are sent first in order to check possible outcomes.

Best Way to Transport Goods

Perishable goods can be transported by any means of transportation - road or rail, air or ocean freight. The most optimal mode of transport for shipping agricultural products is air transport due to speed and safety. Moreover, today each airport is equipped with a special area for handling operations where temperature can be controlled and goods are kept in the best conditions possible. However, air transportation is quite pricey compared to other types of transportation.

Conditions of Carriage

Most often instructions for ensuring the required temperature regime are provided by the shipper. Experienced freight forwarders and / or carriers can help with the choice of the optimal temperature, especially if it is the first test shipment of the shipper.

Overheating as well as freezing, directly affects the quality, external and internal appearance, taste, color and other characteristics of the consumer product. With the deterioration of a product's quality decreases its attractiveness and value for the buyer. Food commodities might be spoiled before reaching the final consumer or storage location. To prevent this, the carrier must ensure adequate temperature and humidity inside the vehicle.

Packing and Labeling

There are several types of packaging for food products, in particular for fruits and vegetables, such as wooden boxes, cardboard boxes and plastic trays. The outer packaging must be labeled with the name of the cargo, country of origin and dispatch, name of the shipper, designation of the optimal temperature, shelf life and other necessary information. It is important to know that each country has its own unique requirements and an experienced freight forwarder can provide the necessary information for a successful shipment.


Each food product has a certain shelf life, after which it loses its properties, nutritional value and becomes dangerous to human health or life and must be destroyed. To preserve food products’ physico-chemical properties and safety indicators, it is necessary to comply with the storage conditions for food products (temperature, air humidity, light conditions) and handling rules (pest protection, package preservation measures).

Customs Clearance of Perishable Goods

When perishable products pass through the customs border, certain documents are required, such as a certificate of origin, phytosanitary and fumigation certificate, etc. For both import and export shipments, the assistance of an experienced customs broker is required to go through the customs clearance process smoothly.

Our Experience

At Xscale, our cold chain capabilities include industry-compliant temperature-control transportation, cool storage, active and passive cooling systems. We have been handling perishables for over 8 years, supporting our customers from industries such as agriculture, airlines and pharmaceuticals.


About Xscale

Xscale is a logistics and supply chain management company headquartered in Singapore. We operate out of our hubs in Singapore, Tashkent, Frankfurt and London, providing a complete range of logistics and procurement services to businesses around the world. We combine our global network, industry expertise and highly competent professionals to work alongside our customers and solve their supply chain challenges. Contact Us if you require any assistance.


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