How can you maintain the cold chain in the heat of an Arabian summer?

Paul Feeney, Head of Sourcing and Development at Mohebi Logistics suggests how to safeguard the supply chain during the long, hot summer months in the Arabian Gulf.

In hot countries like those of the Gulf region, it is imperative to ensure that the storage and transport of cooled and frozen products is never compromised.

Following the complete supply chain process for your food items is the key to confirming that your products have been professionally handled. It enables an organization to say with confidence that every step has been taken to ensure that products are delivered in the best possible condition that meets both national and international standards.

Research shows that chilled and frozen products can be moved on average up to 14 times through the cold chain, so it’s critical to work with partners who can maintain the full integrity of your products.

Go beyond the certification

The UAE is a net importer of food and has many good suppliers who are HACCP and ISO certified. While these qualifications are essential to ensure safe food handling, it’s worth going to the next level by posing additional pertinent questions: Does your logistics specialist work with a well-developed Quality Management System that enhances your ISO certification? Where does he collect your products from before he sends them to the final destination?

By having a constant dialogue with your supplier and understanding how he works, you’ll get a valuable overview of how your products are stored and delivered and under what conditions they arrive.

Ensuring the integrity of your product

Quality Management Systems should identify and classify the type of products that are being delivered and also be able to categorise them by the likely way they’re being handled in the supply chain.

Build a risk matrix of both suppliers and products so that you can understand where are the high risk areas of your business. Once you’re informed, you can act. Your logistics specialist can help you build this matrix.

Beware of the gaps

You can rely on a certain security because items marketed by large manufacturers of globally-recognized brands are produced to the highest possible safety standards. But those standards may be compromised if you fail to understand how all the links in the chain work between the manufacturer’s gate and the retail point. A program of supplier audits with well aimed questions will help you identify any potential risk points.

Ask to see the temperature-checking reports for your goods. Make sure that these records are linked to specific batch numbers to ensure traceability. Ask whether temperature trackers are used in containers while goods are being shipped overseas. And how is the temperature checking done – just at one point or at the front, middle and rear of a container? Was the container chilled to the correct temperature prior to loading? How many places did the delivery vehicle drop to before it arrived at the your supplier’s premises? How many further drop-off places until the final retail point? Can you see evidence of rejections of unsafe products at your suppliers?

Keep probing

Don’t hesitate to keep asking your logistics supplier searching questions like these. It will allow you to state with confidence that you understand your entire supply chain and that you know where your potential weak areas may be. Then together with your supplier you can work out how to close these gaps. This will ultimately give you the peace of mind that that your well earned brand reputation and market position is secure and protected.