Pallet-level Monitoring for the Fresh Food Supply Chain


Freshness of produce is a key competitive battleground for grocers. The common practice is to monitor the temperature of the field, cooler, trailer, and warehouse. By instead monitoring the temperature within each pallet–from the moment it is picked in the field until the end delivery at the retailer–smarter decisions can be made, based on that information, and losses can be cut in half for both the grower and the grocer.


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Produce freshness, quality, and selection are primary drivers of why people choose one store or brand over another for groceries. Grocers must cull their fresh produce to assure an attractive presentation, but this entails a considerable loss to the grocer, typically over 10% of what they purchase. Similarly, rejected shipments reduce the selection at the retailer and represent a big cost to the grower, typically 5%-10% of revenue. Lack of consistency in the end-to-end handling of produce is the primary cause of the supply chain and retail loss. A significant portion of this loss is avoidable. This report describes a different approach to temperature monitoring and freshness management throughout the supply chain that can have a significant impact on the outcome.

To make a real difference in freshness, temperature monitoring needs to be done at the item/case-level or pallet-level. There are significant variations in the handling and temperatures that each pallet in a lot is exposed to. This results in significant shelf-life variations between pallets. A precise understanding of these per-pallet variations is foundational to improving freshness. Pallet-level monitoring enables a more intelligent approach to distribution—Intelligent distribution and FEFO inventory management (First Expired, First Out)—as well as providing the data needed to optimize end-to-end processes for maximum shelf life. Implementing these approaches can cut losses in half for retailers and growers. This report covert areas including:

  • Why it is important to constantly monitor the pallet temperature, rather than just the surrounding environment temperature
  • Importance of continous end-to-end temperature monitoring, from field to final delivery
  • How to do FEFO (First Expired, First Out) inventory management
  • How Intelligent Distribution enables sending the right pallets to the right destination to maximize freshness throughout the network
  • Creating shipments with uniform shelf life
  • Advantages that pallet-level temperature monitoring has over relying on visual inspection alone

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