Refrigerated trucks cut fresh produce losses on transit

Edition 10Special Report

Temperature data can be printed out from a printer installed inside the vehicle. Temperature controls range from 50 C to -50 C for chilling products such as flowers, milk and meat, -50 C to -180 C for preserving products such as seafood and -180 C to -300 C for freezing products like ice creams. “Pre-cooling is done before products are loaded onto the truck, then the driver sets the required temperature and also monitors the cargo

[rt_dropcap_style dropcap_content=”EFRIGERATED trucks are helping Kenyan fresh produce distributors to cut losses during transportation.”]

Agricultural tech startup Twiga Foods, which collects produce from farms or aggregation points and delivers to retailers in urban areas across the country, says the use of the refrigerated trucks supplied by motor vehicle assembler Isuzu East Africa has minimised losses caused by mechanical damage or overheating.

“As a company we get produce directly from the farms and distribute across the cities to the vendors and with the insulated trucks from Isuzu, we have managed to store and transport the produce without any losses,” says Beveryl Mutua, the FMCG Manager at Twiga Foods.

She says the company gets fresh fruits from over 17,000 farmers across the country and receives over 30,000 visits by retailers on its digital platform every week.

“Fruits being perishable products require a transport solution that is reliable,” Ms Mutua says. Between 20 and 30 percent fresh produces occur during transportation from the farms to the market.

Motor vehicle assembler Isuzu East Africa, says it designed the cold chain logistics vehicles after realising that this category of their customers, including farmers and retailers, were incurring huge financial costs importing second-hand cooling units.

A cooling unit costs about Sh1 million without guaranteed aftersales servicing Eng Ezekiel Kuria, Isuzu East Africa’s Body Building & Vehicle Engineering Manager, says that in addition to meeting the transport requirements of perishable goods, they were also keen to address food safety, hygiene and quality concerns.

“We realised there were significant logistical hurdles as a company that are faced by these retailers and the farmers. In some cases, you would see meat dealers relying on temperatures of 5 degrees between the early hours of 3am to 5am, risking their lives from cold-related sicknesses, with negative impact on life-work balance,” says Mr Kuria.

The refrigerated trucks have a special insulated body and come with a fully sealed or airtight rectangular cabin with sufficient thermal insulation properties that prevent heat exchange with ambient environment. These trucks are also customised to have a temperature control unit and one can adjust temperatures at the touch of a button from the driver’s seat with real time monitoring.

temperatures during transit. The suppliers and consumer can remotely monitor the temperature of the cargo throughout the journey which gives assurance that goods delivered are of superior quality,” says Mr Kuria. Some of the trucks can be used to transport different perishable products at the same time.

“In this scenario, a multitemperature zone refrigerated truck is used whereby it is divided into two kinds of single-temperature zone control panels that are provided to allow for varying temperatures for each compartment independently,” he says.

Depending on the type of product to be carried and the need of the customer, he adds, they may install a cooling unit that can run while the truck is turned off. The trucks can be built and designed with different types of cooling systems suited to short or long distances.

Victory Farm, a company in the business of fish, entered a partnership with Isuzu to acquire trucks for transportation of fish from the lake to the vendors.

“Fish being a perishable product requires to be handled and transported in a very careful manner so as to reach its final destination in its quality condition and this necessitated us to approach Isuzu to get the trucks,” says Amit Grabvoski, Victory Farm’s commercial manager.

Stephen Mungai, a banana farmer in Meru County, has also found the refrigerated trucks convenient for transporting farm produce. “With most parts of Meru being slopy, the Isuzu trucks have proved to be a good transport solution for our bananas as they have been designed in such a way that they cannot get stuck anywhere while coming to pick the produce,” he says.

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