Temperature-controlled transport on the increase across Europe


Consumers love convenience. In the kitchen, they increasingly revert to convenience products from the freezer. According to the British Frozen Food Federation statistics 6.3 billion pounds in sales were generated with frozen food products in the UK in 2019 alone.

The trend is apparent throughout Europe and is further reinforced by the ongoing Corona pandemic. Anyone who not only has to combine a job and household, but also, for example, childcare within their own four walls, is more likely to go for ready-made frozen meals. The change in consumer behaviour has its origins long before the crisis and primarily is due to food trends and consumers’ curiosity for everything new.

Frozen food more popular than ever and the increasing consumption has made an impact on the freight offers in the TIMOCOM freight exchange. Natalia Echevarry from the logistics department of the Spanish fruit and vegetable wholesaler Germans Barri and David Moog, Product Manager at the IT service provider TIMOCOM commented on the development.

Convenience or fresh produce: demand is high, but fluctuates markedly

Going for frozen pizza, chips and ready meals is a sign of changed buyer attitudes. This is not without consequences for logistics, because according to industry experts, the delivery structure is changing. Orders from suppliers are more volatile and instable, and are increasingly placed with retailers in lot size 1.

Natalia Echevarry from the logistics department of the Spanish fruit and vegetable wholesaler Germans Barri shares this observation: “Demand is high, but irregular. Days of great demand are followed by weak ones”. However, this cannot be explained by the current corona crisis, she remarks in an interview with TIMOCOM, but by rapidly changing customer wishes. “We speculate that consumers increasingly appreciate the appeal of variation. However, the demand for exotic products is still unstable, as they are not staple products like potatoes. Particularly in times of Coronavirus, the price of certain products plays an important role and the demand for exotic fruits and vegetables has decreased somewhat”. But transport prices are still quite low, she adds, because there are few imports.

The prognosis: 20 to 30 percent more refrigerated transport in Europe in 2020

Current trends such as superfood or vegan nutrition also promote the development of fresh produce logistics. For algae, goji berries or pomegranates to live up to their reputation as a vitamin-rich nutrient miracle, they must be transported within a temperature range of 2-7 centigrade.

“We are observing a continuous Europe-wide increase in temperature-controlled transports”, says David Moog, Product Manager at the IT service provider TIMOCOM. For example, the number of freight offers for temperature-controlled transport on the freight exchange operated by TIMOCOM increased by more than 60 percent to 618,227 in December 2019 compared to the same month the previous year (375,085). In recent weeks, growing stockpiling in the population, especially in the FF sector, has “led to an explosion in demand”. According to analysts’ estimates, a plus of 20 to 30 percent in the refrigerated transport sector is likely to be expected.

A solution: redefining delivery chains

Among the service providers who use TIMOCOM to manage their refrigerated transport are the member companies of the temperature-controlled association Transfrigoroute Deutschland. In order to maintain the SME structure of the logistics landscape and thus continuously improve the performance of the transport companies, the association relies on partnership and dialogue-oriented cooperation with all players. This enables short-term order spikes to be absorbed and to avoid empty runs at the same time. This is a special challenge for the growing and yet specialised area of temperature-controlled transport.

IT solutions like the TIMOCOM Smart Logistics System with a Europe-wide network of customers make an important contribution here. They are an instrument for reassessing existing supply chains which are subject to both fluctuating demand and external influences, such as lockdowns, and require a higher degree of flexibility in all areas.