Distributing temperature-sensitive products in developing markets

Transporting temperature-sensitive goods is never an easy task – and this is never truer than when trying to do so in developing markets, often with tropical climates and challenging geographies.

The Philippines are an example of this – geographically, it is an archipelago consisting of about 7,641 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited. They are clustered into the three major island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Whilst the Philippines has a large base of experienced importers, only few of them have nationwide coverage, and the high cost of inter-island shipping makes imported products much more expensive outside of Metro Manila. Whilst the Filipino cold chain has improved in leaps and bounds over recent years, it is estimated that around 40% of temperature-sensitive food supplies are still not passing though it at present.

But even in more developed markets, maintaining the cold chain can be problematic – a Singaporean hotel recently commented to us that its location on the busy Orchard Road made chilled / frozen transport more of a challenge – as there are so many hotels and restaurants on this road, delivery trucks stop frequently and their doors are being opened and closed constantly – given Singapore’s hot and humid climate, this can quickly lead to problems, especially for extremely sensitive products such as ice cream.

Often cultural factors also play a role – on a recent visit to the Peruvian poultry association, it was explained to us that many Peruvian consumers still prefer warm (!) poultry to chilled or frozen product as they perceive it as fresher.

These examples highlight the importance for any exporter of temperature-sensitive food products to choose their distribution partner in developing markets extremely carefully – in terms of coverage, facilities and also cultural understanding of the market!

If you need help or have any questions concerning distribution arrangements in emerging markets, or need to find a partner, please just get in touch – we’d be happy to discuss how we could help.