The demand for cold chain packaging is on the rise as eCommerce expands into ship-to-home meal kits and groceries as well as other perishable and semi-perishable items. In order to safely and effectively ensure these temperature-sensitive products are protected and preserved during shipment while also maintaining supply chain optimization, it’s important to understand the five key principles of cold chain packaging.
1. Packaging Volume
Investment in cold chain technologies has led to insulated packaging that is thinner and lighter weight at a reduced volume of packaging as compared to industry standards. This allows for optimal supply chain practices reducing non-rev inventory storage and minimizing shipping costs.
2. Cold Chain Packaging Performance
In order to meet and exceed food and product safety requirements, consistent mechanical performance of insulated packaging is critical. Packaging failures are not an option. Repeated and extensive testing ensures that temperatures are maintained for the duration of shipment. Not only does the insulation need to perform consistently, but equal focus should be placed on condensation and moisture as well as the total weight of the contents, stacking strength for line hauls and other concepts such as air flow to extend the shelf life of perishable goods.
3. Packaging Cost Optimization
Cold chain packaging must be cost-effective. If the cost of the packaging exceeds the product profit margin, the industry cannot be sustained. Through lightweighting and reduction in packaging materials, costs can be reduced. Additionally, by focusing on reducing packaging cost through single source supply procurement, profits can be maximized through additional freight optimization, reduced deliveries, and non-inventory space savings.
One of the most common criticisms of eCommerce especially when it comes to products that need additional insulation and protection, is the amount of waste that may result due to excess packaging. By using products that are made from recycled materials and/or that are recyclable, concerns about sustainability can be reduced. Optimally, recycling should be achieved without having to separate non-recyclable materials from recyclable and instead use only packaging components that are recyclable.
5. Customer Experience
By taking a holistic approach to design, outer packaging, inner components, insulation, and refrigerant can be developed in conjunction based on a company’s overall chill chain requirement, which can vary customer to customer. As a result, the customer receives a customized solution that is highly cost effective as compared to piecing together packaging components individually from multiple suppliers as a commodity independent of each other.
About Pratt Industries and Cold Chain Packaging
All of these nuances related to cold chain packaging and grocery delivery require a certain level of expertise to determine the best packaging fit. Therefore it’s important to select a packaging supplier that has specific experience with cold chain packaging. Through our ISTA / TAPPI certified labs, we empirically test every shipping scenario for each type of product to determine the best and most economical thermal packaging products to support unique supply chill chains like grocery delivery.