Whether you are new to the logistics industry or a seasoned veteran seeking cold chain storage, there are essential details for warehousing frozen foods and beverages. It is vital to ensure that your products and operations grow at optimal capacity in the hands of the best 3PL warehouse. Starting in cold chain storage isn’t easy. However, with the help of this quick start guide, you will learn the importance of understanding food freezing points, tips about choosing cold storage based on location, and a reminder that your customer experience matters too.
Michael Black, RLS Premier’s Vice President of Business Development, teamed up with our marketing team to explore the topics in this guide. After a long tenure of 40+ years working in cold chain logistics, Black enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences with others in the industry through organizations like the Global Cold Chain Alliance. These three tips and considerations will spark a discussion surrounding your current 3PL provider and how to succeed with mutually beneficial and strategic cold chain partnerships.
1. The Science Behind Food Freezing Points
The freezing points for water and food differ. While this might seem evident, there is sometimes confusion around the freezing temperature for food because 32°F is the freezing temperature for water. We won’t get too technical; however, when you add salt, sugar, muscle, and other ingredients to make food, the freezing point drops below 32°F.
Consider this: freshwater’s freezing point is 32°F, while saltwater freezes at 28.4°F. This is because only the water crystallizes and freezes; the salt does not, lowering the freezing point.
With this in mind, it is crucial to have the proper equipment in cold storage warehouses to get the product to 0°F or lower (if needed) for it to be frozen adequately for quality and food safety. If not, searching for a 3PL company with blast freezing capabilities would be significant for preserving product quality.
Understanding your products’ adequate storing temperature is crucial for your 3PL warehouse because temperature abuse, whether intentional or not, can cause issues with the quality and food safety of your products. If your product is susceptible to temperature variability, it must be kept in the correct temperature environment. Tight temperature control can eradicate the risk of shipping rejections, which can cause hefty fines and delays. More importantly, understanding the food science of freezing and food safety protects everyone by preventing the risk of endangering those who will later consume the products.
2. Location as a means for operational growth
As you search for a cold storage warehouse, consider emerging markets that your business can tap into by partnering with a 3PL company in that area. As a rule of thumb, anywhere within a 600 mile radius of the location equals two-day ground transit time.
Some hot markets for cold storage are Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, which can reach 93% of consumers in two day ground shipping. So, it is no wonder why Texas has 231.4 million cubic feet of cold storage capacity across the state. In addition, Indianapolis can connect you to 50% of the population within one day. Moreover, you can research the top states for cold storage capacity and narrow your partner search from there – according to CBRE, California is the front runner with over 16 million square feet of capacity.
3. Consider what your customer experience will be like.
As a business, you probably focus on your customers’ experience with your products but do not forgo what your customer experience should be like with your cold chain storage partner. Your journey should be just as important to your 3PL cold storage partner as yours is with your customers—if not more.
While interviewing for the right cold storage partner, ask about response time to customer inquiries, food safety strategy, certifications, key performance indicators they track for customers, and request a demo of their customer platform. Furthermore, plan ahead by asking about additional cold chain solutions they offer. Even if you don’t need a holistic provider at that moment, consider the future of your business’ growth.
A cold chain storage provider should provide more value to your business than a place to store products; they are the ones protecting your brand and providing services that should enhance the success of your business. Evidence of how the company treats its customers would be customer experience awards and also reputable reviews.
When it comes to your customer’s experience, the concern of quality and food safety is top of mind. Does this partner have SQF or BRCGS certifications? A smart partner will offer this information and be open to providing voluntary audits should you become a customer. Your partner would care for your product as if it was their own – they will go to bat for you and your customers’ wellbeing.
The ideal customer experience with a cold chain provider is flexible, fluid communication, and protects your product at all costs.
Know what you need and be selective.
It is an exciting time to be in the food industry! According to the American Frozen Food Institute, in partnership with UNIFY, frozen food sales in the last month of August 2022 have increased drastically. For example, sales of frozen poultry increased nearly 27% in August compared to the previous month.
Therefore, it is vital to understand your product thoroughly to succeed in the marketplace. Understanding the proper temperatures, strategically selecting your cold storage locations, and never wavering on the worth of your customer experience is crucial to ensuring your business is successful in the booming cold chain logistics industry. Being selective about your partner for cold chain storage can propel your business to new heights!