Before 2020, the high-end perishables market was shifting and becoming increasingly harder to navigate. Then 2020 happened—and everything took an even harder turn.
Since the early 2000s, America has been losing its taste for frozen foods. Health-conscious consumers started perceiving fresh food as healthier, and food manufacturers and brands fed the desire for fresher choices. Demand grew and the transportation industry adapted to account for the increase of high-end perishable products that required greater care: fresh produce, juices, freshly cut foods, deli meats, cheeses, and other luxury items.
Over the past year, the high-end perishable market faced another seismic shift.
A New Reality for Luxury Perishables Transportation
Until early 2020, U.S. consumer spending on food was stable, with growth around 4 percent over the previous five years. Sales were split almost evenly between retail outlets (grocery stores and chains) and food-service companies (restaurants, hospitals, and schools).
The pandemic immediately affected many aspects of normal life, many of which had a direct impact on the high-end perishable market. Flight cancellations, travel bans, quarantines, restaurant closures, stay-at-home mandates that impacted manufacturers put new and added pressure on the supply chain.
Perishable goods transportation is an integrated component of cold chain logistics and helps in the management and control of the flow of the cold chain supply process.
Getting food from point A to point B already has its fair share of challenges, especially in our “need-it-now” society. But with high-end items, the pressure is even higher. Brand marketing has given high expectations on gourmet goods, requiring ship- ping standards to be exceedingly strict. Consumers also provide more scrutiny on these products. A ruined product can equal a ruined brand reputation.
Dinner on the Doorstep
For an example of how the high-end perishable market has been impacted, look at just one facet of the industry—meal kits.
The meal kit industry is growing fast, with consumer spending on step-by-step, ready-to-cook meals doubling year-over-year. One of the biggest brands in this space, Blue Apron, has been reporting explosive growth, onboarding a whopping 200,000 new customers in the first quarter of 2020. This prompted a rapid scaling of its meal kit assembly and delivery system. HelloFresh—a Blue Apron competitor—has also seen a rise in sales.
Based on the high price point of fresh meals like these, when a consumer orders from a meal kit company, they expect fresh, cold—not frozen—food, so that when they get home, they can cook it right away.
This time-sensitive brand promise becomes the supply chain’s challenge to actually deliver on.
Supporting Restaurants with Falling Demand
Restaurant sales slowed in 2020, but they didn’t stop serving altogether. With a greater focus on take-out and make-at-home meals, restaurants still needed frequent deliveries to stay in business.
This made it harder for farmers, distributors, producers, and consumer- and packaged-goods companies to measure demand as it constantly changed month to month as different states and cities mandated different rules and regulations regarding dining.
When it comes to the cold supply chain, the stress and the stakes have never been higher, and thus the mobility goods industry has been expected to respond with minimal drop-offs in efficiency.
It begs the question: What are the key components of a successful transition toward a heavier focus on home delivery and the restaurant side?
Trailer Telematics and the High-End Perishables Supply Chain
Whether they’re going to a restaurant or a doorstep, high-end perishables require intensive monitoring. And telematics is an invaluable tool that helps you keep watch at all times.
A solution like FleetPulse from Great Dane can help organize cargo and delivery schedules, track where a trailer is at any given moment, monitor in-trailer temperature, and even tell when specific doors have been opened and closed.
Robust telematics can also report an issue—like a flat tire or broken light—so you can prevent downtime, which is important when time is of the essence.
Temperature Zones for Greater Reefer Efficiency
For high-end perishables, temperature stability is vital throughout every stage of distribution. As an example, bakery goods like cakes require unique temp controls (usually 55–65 degrees Fahrenheit). This range is warmer than frozen foods but cooler than an ambient environment.
Great Dane solves for multiple needs by offering multi-temp compartmentalization. For maximum productivity, the Everest reefer can be divided into as many as three temperature-controlled compartments and an ambient section.
Trailer Efficiency and Safety Features
When door placement is customized, it saves you unloading time. When lights are visible from afar, it keeps you and others safe. For some, these may be “extras” or “add-ons.” But for us, they’re critical—an integral part of the commitment we’ve had to refrigerated transportation since the 1940s.
At Great Dane, we have a deep understanding of our customers’ needs, so we’re able to create innovative, custom products and services to support their individual operations. Great Dane provides a combination of patented technology and design excellence with extraordinary convenience and aftermarket support.