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Tech for Fresh Produce Preservation in the Tropics | Value Chain Asia

Tech for Fresh Produce Preservation in the Tropics | Value Chain Asia

In tropical countries across Asia, fresh produce is a vital economic cornerstone. Preservation techniques have redefined what ‘fresh’ means in Asian tropical countries. It’s no longer just about taste and appearance. It’s about ensuring that produce remains as close to its original state as possible, from farm to table.

From the lush mango orchards of India to the vibrant fruit markets of Thailand and the innovative urban farms of Singapore, the need for fresh fruit and vegetable delivery in a hot and humid climate render the need for cold chain technology.

The global cold chain market can rise to $133.97 Billion by 2027. Cold storage facilities use refrigerators and freezers to slow the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause food loss during transportation.

Movement of best fresh produce in Asian tropical countries

Innovative packaging solutions have greatly facilitated the export of agricultural products from Asia. These packages protect the produce from physical damage, temperature variations, and humidity, which can lead to spoilage. 

They can extend the shelf life of fresh produce, allowing it to endure longer journeys without compromising quality. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging are for such purposes. 

For example, Thailand’s agricultural sector has experienced a significant transformation through preservation technology.  The increasing number of supermarkets and restaurants made modern cold food transport available to maintain the quality of fresh produce.

Most recent data from Statista, showed that the revenue in the Fresh Fruits market amounts to US$4.56 Billion for 2023. However, the year has yet to end and this can continue to increase.

Another is Vietnam. They have ample agricultural and seafood supplies. The cold chain logistic companies distribute fast-moving consumer goods to local people and producers in provinces with industrial zones. Preserved vegetables, packed seafood, and other agricultural products go to warehouses and seaports for export without getting soiled.

Bringing fresh vegetables from farmers to homes

A thriving fresh produce retail industry holds significant importance in the economies of Asian tropical countries. The agricultural sector sustains numerous farmers’ livelihoods and substantially contributes to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

Countries that are in the tropics are known for their high temperatures and humidity, creating the perfect conditions for the rapid spoilage of fresh vegetables and fruits. Without proper preservation, these climatic challenges can render fresh produce unsellable quickly. 

Implementing robust cold chain technologies plays a crucial role in safeguarding the efficient delivery of goods to consumers and international markets, thereby mitigating potential economic losses.

In 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim is to double the revenue of farmers in India. They launched the National Cooling Strategy which is inclusive of cold storage access. India became the first to implement such an initiative.

Understanding the cold chain technology

Farm-fresh vegetables and fruits require a scale of storage temperatures to reduce the risks of freezing leaves and fruit storage.  The cold chain operates under meticulous coordination, with each element working in perfect harmony. 

Refrigerated storage units, refrigerated trucks, temperature monitoring systems, and trained personnel work harmoniously to safeguard products’ freshness, from fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables to dairy and meat.  

A collaborative commitment has been established between Brussels’s Impact Licensing Initiative (ILI) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). They aim to facilitate better fresh produce sale networks. 

Said commitment assists small farming communities by facilitating sub-licensed technologies, including cold chain, to improve post-harvest processes and ensure fresh fruit and vegetable delivery. 

In turn, regions that lack the infrastructure required to support cold chain technologies would benefit. Especially to those facing unlikely change in seasons.

The cold chain industry in Asia

Asia’s fresh produce industry continually expands its global reach, offering consumers a broader range of fresh fruits and vegetables worldwide. The cold chain, a temperature-controlled supply chain, has made such a feat feasible. 

Notably, cold chain logistics is highly beneficial for farmers. They can now transport fresh produce to distributors and consumers regardless of distance. 

There are now innovative packaging for fruit and vegetable coatings, bioengineering, and more. Also, various techniques are now effectively reducing food product deterioration and extending perishable goods’ reach. 

With cold chains’ refrigerated storage, transportation, and distribution, maintenance of a controlled temperature to prevent spoilage, higher revenue and fresh produce can be guaranteed.

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