Mobile Chill Technology Ready For Its Moment
Fighting for dollars to invest in agricultural practices technology can be a challenge. But one product developer believes his technology will move with the trends already being seen in the agriculture business.
The most pressing trend is the emergence of the ‘New Fresh Paradigm’ (NFP) which is the push towards purchasing food via the Internet and offering same-day delivery. It’s a marked difference from the way consumers have long shopped—think weekly, more lengthy, experiences. “This is a growing trend that will gradually become a past time as millennial buyers overtake baby boomers as the largest purchasing group,” says Gregory Smith of ColdPICK International LLC in Bellevue, Wa. ColdPICK’s mobile cooling technology is looking to find its place in the NFP.
A change in offering groceries
In turn, retailers are responding. In June of 2017, e-commerce giant Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market Inc. Urban growers are emerging, including Vertical and Modular farms popping up nearby Walmart distribution centers in Cleburne, Tex. and Los Angeles. This will lead to commercial greenhouses exponentially increasing their participation in produce supply. The recent Digitally Engaged Food Shopper report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen notes that in five to seven years, 70 percent of consumers will grocery shop online and in June, Kroger’s began testing driverless cars for grocery deliveries.
With all of those trends coming closer and closer together, what does it mean for companies such as ColdPICK? It’s developing its role in the NFP by using its technology to extend the shelf life of produce, as well as reduce costs aimed at the Urban Grower and their need for a scaled cold chain.
ColdPICK’s technology works well with medium to high-respiration items such as berries, squash, peppers and peas requiring immediate forced air cooling and loose-leaf, broccoli and herbs using vacuum cooling. Both pre-cooling methods will need to be compact with a small footprint to fit the urban grower’s need for maintaining the cold chain. Meanwhile, material handling of pre-cooling may vary, but all retail-ready cartons will be discharged into an area for sorting by order for delivery to the end user.
And with technology ready for adoption, the challenge for Smith is convincing users to maximize their spending now for savings and product improvement later.
“Agriculture can be a traditional industry, from family businesses to large corporations,” he says. “In all cases the challenge is to understand that the methods of material handling in the cold chain must change and cannot mirror methods used over the past decades. The expectations of the consumer are greater than in the past relative to quality and shelf life. And the New Fresh Paradigm consumer also expects fresh, local produce to be delivered on the same day.”