None of this is to gainsay the immense value of containerization to world trade in perishables. The refrigerated container has opened up international markets and has allowed food, pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive goods to be shipped safely and cost-effectively over very long distances. The current trend for pharmaceutical supply chains to shift from air to ocean is at least partially driven by the more controlled cold chain that containerization can provide, helping to meet new regulatory requirements such as the E.U. Good Distribution Practice (GDP) rules for medicinal products.
But GDP and other major new legislation such as the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act(FSMA) also highlight how governments around the world are themselves seeking to improve supply chain risk management in a global trade environment, especially for products that will be consumed by humans. Temperature control and traceability go hand in hand in this tougher legal environment. And shippers, mainly, are liable for compliance.
Over the next few years, the increased risks of container operations, plus new regulations such as GDP and FSMA, will make cold chain visibility and chain of custody data more important than ever before. Machine-to-machine telematics and sensors, as part of the Internet of Things, will play an important role for many supply chain stakeholders.
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