The perishables business injects profits for carriers

With growing globalisation the perishables business has taken off, but the highly sensitive cargo — be it flowers, fruit, meat or pharmaceuticals — requires greater investment in specialised ULDs and expertise. Manfred Singh reports.

It is likely that not many of us have seen the new 10×10 cm handling label that has been developed for the transportation of temperaturecontrolled, time-sensitive goods. Affixed by the shipper, the labels are intended to signal to handlers the need to maintain such packages at between 15°C and 25°Cambient temperature.

Though the use of the label has not yet become mandatory, airlines and freight forwarders are becoming increasingly aware that transporting such goods is treading a thin line and constitutes a whole gamut of risk management. If there is one cargo that is solely dependent on ULDs, it is the perishable trade and obviously the fast-moving — read pharma — variety. As a perishable expert puts it, the difference between a perishable-loaded ULD arriving on time, or arriving late could mean life or death for the products within. Getting it right means a business segment with huge growth potential. Ram Menen, Emirates’ divisional senior VP, Cargo, points out that perishables handling has grown “by leaps and bounds in the last five years”.

Pharma is big business
In short, perishables are important for the air cargo business. Forecasts by IMS Health Incorporated, a provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries covering more than 100 countries, pointed out that the global market value of pharma products could exceed US$975 billion by 2013. The importance, therefore, of the ‘perishable’ goods industry to air cargo was more than evident at the recent 20th Annual IATA Cargo Network Services at Miami in the US. A session titled, ‘Time & Temperature Logistics for Healthcare Products’ outlined how the product has grown and the kind of work that the IATA’s Time & Temperature Task Force (TTTF), a body in its Live Animals and Perishables Board (LAPB), was undertaking.