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5 Challenges in Perishable Supply Chain Management

Perishable Supply Chain Management

In a global economy driven by the race to produce, store, and distribute perishable goods quickly and efficiently, supply chain management plays an increasingly important role in staying ahead of the competition.

Perishables present unique challenges, as they must move rapidly from producer to consumer while maintaining high levels of quality and freshness. 

In this article, we’ll explore key challenges that today’s perishable product supply chains face. We’ll examine these topics in greater detail, looking more closely at some of the tactics available to overcome them effectively.

Technology is one method used to address the produce industry’s key pain points. For example, Silo is a technology and financial platform for your produce business that provides features like tracking and traceability, accounting, communications, and more to help you overcome common challenges experienced throughout the perishable supply chain.

1. Balancing supply and demand

Balancing supply and demand within a perishable product supply chain can be challenging due to the rapidly changing nature of consumer preferences. Consumers may prefer one variety of a product at one time, only to prefer another the next. Supply chains must be able to move quickly and efficiently to meet sudden shifts in demand with minimal resulting waste.

To counteract this, businesses must strive to stay informed on customer behaviors and trends to properly adjust their supply chain operations accordingly. 

For example, by using big data analytics, companies can better understand customer purchasing habits, allowing them to adjust their procurement and production practices to maintain precise inventory levels. This helps ensure that they have the necessary products available while avoiding overstocking or shortages.

2. Controlling perishable product quality

Controlling product quality is another common struggle in supply chain management. The risk of spoilage or contamination can be very costly to businesses and customers alike.

The quality of perishable products is heavily dependent on how quickly and efficiently they move through the supply chain. Since perishables are sensitive to external factors (such as temperature and handling), the supply chain must be structured in a way that minimizes damage to the product or maintains shelf life.

Businesses should ensure proper handling throughout the supply chain, with processes designed to strategically place storage facilities closer to customers to minimize transportation times.

Companies should also pay close attention to product quality assurance tests at each stage of the supply chain to minimize product damage. This can help ensure that perishables arrive in excellent quality and are safe for consumption.

3. Managing temperature variations

Managing temperature variations from storage to transportation is another major challenge in perishable product supply chain management. Perishables are sensitive to fluctuations in external temperatures and can easily spoil if exposed to extreme hot or cold conditions. 

To maintain product freshness, businesses must have a robust system for controlling temperature throughout the supply chain. This may include temperature-controlled storage facilities and/or a fleet of refrigerated vehicles. It also may require businesses to monitor weather conditions along transportation routes, as well as adjust shipping times and routes accordingly.

Businesses must also work closely with suppliers and customers to communicate any necessary changes in storage instructions. This helps ensure that perishables remain in optimal condition throughout their journey.

4. Tracking and tracing

Tracking and tracing is another primary challenge in perishable product supply chain management. Since perishables are highly sensitive, it’s essential to monitor their movements from origin to destination in order to maintain quality and freshness. 

To do this effectively, businesses must use a comprehensive tracking system that allows them to view data on shipment locations and conditions in real-time. This helps them ensure that their products are moving safely throughout the supply chain, and can alert businesses to any irregularities so they can proactively address issues.

The tracking system should also be able to integrate with other systems within a business’s supply chain, such as inventory management or transportation management. This helps businesses track their perishables and receive alerts if there are any changes that could affect product quality or safety.

5. Logistics planning

Logistics planning can be challenging in supply chain management. With perishables, it is important to plan ahead and establish well-structured plans for transporting goods safely and efficiently. This involves looking at the entire supply chain holistically to identify the most effective transportation routes.

Businesses must also consider external factors such as weather, traffic conditions, and customer preferences when mapping out their logistics plans. This helps them strategically design transportation routes that minimize potential delays and damages, and maximize product freshness.

Companies should also monitor any changes in customer demand to ensure that their supply chain is agile enough to adapt accordingly.


Managing a perishable product supply chain involves overcoming several challenges. These include ensuring proper handling and quality assurance throughout the supply chain, controlling temperature variations, tracking and tracing shipments, and planning effective logistics strategies. 

By tackling these issues head on, businesses can ensure that their perishables arrive in excellent condition and are safe for consumption. Ultimately, this can help them reduce wastage and increase customer satisfaction. 

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