Due to the effects of globalisation, the corresponding trading distance between countries and markets is much smaller. However, the physical separation is still a glaring reality. The greater the distance the goods travel, the more likely they can be damaged in the many phases of complex transport operations. Many goods can be damaged because of temperature variations. The quality of perishable goods may be compromised, since temperature has an effect on its chemical reaction, which could be mitigated by low temperatures. Time and coordination are two important key factors when shipping perishable goods, as delays can have a negative impact on their quality. To effectively facilitate the process, companies and businesses in many industries such as medical, food and pharmaceutical industries rely on the cold chain.
The cold chain is the process which involves transportation of perishable and sensitive products along a supply chain. Through thermal and refrigerated methods, the packaging and planning protect the quality of the shipments. Cold chain products are often shipped using refrigerated rail carriages, cargo ships and air cargo.
The cold chain is both a science and a process. It requires the understanding of the chemical and biological processes that are associated with perishability. It relies on the physical means to ensure appropriate temperature conditions along the supply chain. It is also a multitude of tasks that must be performed to store, prepare, transfer and monitor the temperature of both perishable and sensitive products. It is essential to emerging markets and countries, as it provides an opportunity to take part in the global perishable products market, as producers or consumers. Fruits, vegetables, fish and meat products are mostly produced by these countries. The increasing income levels create a change in diet amongst consumers. Many people with increasing demands and purchasing power are becoming preoccupied with healthy eating. That makes producers and retailers respond with an array of exotic fresh fruits. A good example of this is the Acai berry, which is the staple diet of the Amazon tribes. It has gained in popularity, especially in the health supplements market.
The impact of the cold chain in a geographical perspective can also be felt. Globally, specialisation of many agricultural functions permits the transportation of temperature sensitive goods to distant places. It also enables the distribution of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products from single large cold storage facilities. Regionally, the cold chain can support the specialisation of production and economies, depending on the scale of distribution. The consumer could also expect the up-to-date distribution of goods on a local level, such as grocery stores and restaurants. Efficiency of cold chain logistics allows for the strengthening of cold store facilities.