Controlled temperature transport - interview with Adam Cozaś

Adam Cozaś - Business Development Director at ADECON sp. z o.o. answers questions on temperature-controlled transport and introduces ADECON's specialisation in the transport of apples to long-distance markets.

ADECON, as a logistics operator, specializes in the transportation of goods, with a particular focus on managing cargo that requires strict temperature control. This company boasts its own comprehensive transport fleet, fully equipped warehousing solutions, a dedicated bonded warehouse, a well-organized container depot and own customs agencies. ADECON's global presence is further strengthened by its strategic partnerships across the world. 

When it comes to the transportation of apples, what are the dominant routes your company handles? 
A.C.: Our company specializes in comprehensive transportation solutions, including those related to apples. We provide road transportation combined with sea transport. Thanks to a broad network of professional partners, we offer sea freight services to many countries worldwide. This year, we sent the most containers with apples to India, but we also transported them to Vietnam, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. After disruptions in the Egyptian market last season, it was not as significant as in previous years, but it was still an essential direction for shipments. Additionally, interesting destinations where we transport apples include Thailand and South America. It's worth noting that when it comes to sea transportation of apples, it's not a new challenge for us. Before the trade embargo, Polish traders aimed to export apples to Russia. At that time, our company handled such orders and successfully sent apples to Vladivostok, even though the containers were in transit for over 60 days. We were shipping approximately 150 containers per year. Today, the Russian market is closed, and traders are looking for new customers, perhaps in distant markets, but looking ahead, they might find markets that are even better, more advantageous, and more reliable than the Eastern market. 
In the case of long-distance fruit transportation, i.e., container shipping, what are the most common challenges your company faces? 
A.C.: The main problem when it comes to transportation is maintaining the cold chain to minimize any loss of fruit quality from loading to unloading at the destination. Of course, it would be best if the fruits reached their destination in the same condition as they were loaded into the container. However, it's essential to consider that apples will not be in the same state after more than a month of transportation. That's why it's crucial to ensure that fruits intended for long-distance transportation are of the highest quality. The choice of the right means of transport, especially its ability to maintain a constant, set temperature and humidity, is crucial. These parameters should remain unchanged, regardless of external conditions. While the organization of such shipments is the responsibility of commercial companies, it is essential for those preparing the goods to understand the challenges and problems associated with such transportation. Refrigerated trailers and containers are not shock chambers; they are means of transport designed to carry cargo as unchanged as possible from one place to another. Loading is also vital, and it is often the responsibility of specialized companies or individuals. We also try to meet the guidelines provided by our customers, such as temperature, humidity in the container, and air circulation. We have our own guidelines in this regard. 

We also have specialists and established standards in this area. For instance, it is crucial to ensure that the container is adequately pre-cooled before loading. However, the fruit to be loaded into the container should also have a suitably low temperature. If the order specifies that we should transport the fruits at 1°C, and the fruits received for loading have a temperature of 15°C, the final results may not always be satisfactory. The biological activity of the product means that the fruits will start ripening faster than anticipated. 
What should you keep in mind when exporting apples to distant markets? 
A.C.: Sea transportation often takes 30-40 days, but it doesn't mean that it takes that long for the fruits to reach their destination from the point of shipment. Additional factors include logistics before loading onto the ship, export customs clearance, transshipment, unloading, and the fruits' pickup by the final recipient. When we add up all these activities, the 30 days can turn into 60 days in practice. Moreover, problems can occur at each of these stages, starting from delays in container delivery or loading to container damage and the actual receipt of goods at the destination by the contractor. Even though these are sporadic events, apple exporters must be aware that sometimes not everything will go as planned in theory. Our forwarders are well aware of how sensitive and perishable apples are. This is why we offer solutions to our customers to ensure that the apples are of good quality, cost-effective, and arrive relatively quickly. Although there are offers in the market where transportation might be a bit cheaper but longer, it's essential to remember that a more extended delivery time also means a greater risk that the fruits will reach the destination in poorer condition. Unfortunately, apparent savings can translate into tangible losses. 

In our opinion, for the beginning of the season, the transportation of apples (of a certain quality) to distant markets can be successfully carried out from Polish ports. However, as the apple trading season approaches its end, this transit should be as short as possible. Therefore, we often recommend ports other than Polish ones to minimize the time because every day for apples of higher maturity is of great importance. We also work with producers who are confident in the quality of their goods and successfully carry out shipments from Polish ports. However, it seems that groups and trading companies, where apples from several, sometimes a dozen, growers are combined for a single transport, have the most difficulty preparing homogeneous quality goods. This season, we completed our last long-distance shipments by mid-June. By the end of July, these fruits should reach the destination port - thanks to the work of the ADECON team, I am confident that they will arrive in the best possible condition.