The food and dairy industry depends on the smooth and timely supply of raw materials. Since the ingredients required by food industries come from many different geographical locations, sometimes halfway around the world, transportation and logistics play an important role in ensuring the success of the industry. Because of the short term nature of raw materials and finished products, the food and dairy industry faces many unique challenges that are not found in any other industries.
- Speedy Delivery to Avoid Deterioration: Many of the raw materials go bad quickly. For example, vegetables like tomatoes and cucumber and fruits like bananas and grapes do not last long even if stored in climate controlled facilities. Therefore, they need to be delivered quickly. The same applies to finished products. Most processed foods have an expiry date after which they cannot be consumed. Especially susceptible to rotting and putrefaction are foods like pizza, bread and milk products that can go bad within a few days.
- Preservation of Quality: Of all the industries, food and dairy industry is one that can never compromise on quality because when a product is substandard, no one needs to be told by an expert that it is substandard. While the quality of the food depends upon the manufacturer/producer, logistics has an equally important role in preserving that quality. Foods and dairy products need to be stored in certain climactic conditions when transporting and can quickly deteriorate in quality if those standards are not met.
- Risk of Contamination: Since foods are a magnet for all like of life forms, including bacteria and fungi, they can be quickly become contaminated. Since food contamination is a serious health hazard that can even lead death of the consumer, ensuring high standards of hygiene and cleanliness is one of the chief transportation and logistics consideration of the food industry. Businesses must follows best safety practices and hire staff trained in food safety. Without such a consideration, the industry can quickly lose customers and go out of business.
- Risk of Breakages and Damages: Because of their soft and delicate nature, food and dairy products have a high risk of breakages and damages during transportation. For example, eggs and ice-cream cones can break on slight impact, making them completely useless. Breakages and damages during transportation results in huge losses to food industries every year. Therefore, special care must be given during packaging, loading, unloading and transporting to ensure that no damages and breakages occur.
- Climate Controlled Facilities: Since both raw and prepared foods can go bad quickly in the outdoor environment, they need to be stored in climate controlled facilities before, during and after transportation. In order to preserve freshness, avoid contamination and maintain quality, each food product must be stored at an optimum temperature. Most foods do quite well from 34o – 40oF (1.11oC – 4.44oC), but deteriorate rapidly above 40oF (4.44oC). Ensuring proper climate controlled facilities is an integral part of transportation and logistics consideration of the food and dairy industry.