May 27, 2023

Running on Ice: Putting cold chain to the test


Your latest info on all things cold chain

Hello, and welcome to the coolest community in freight! Here you’ll find the latest information on warehouse news, tech developments and all things reefer madness-related. I’m your controller of the thermostat, Mary O’Connell. Thanks for having me!

All thawed out

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Shippers of temperature-controlled goods have a lot to contend with, especially in regard to shipping goods and sending freight on a pallet or in a small parcel. At the International Safe Transit Association forum on TempPack in Houston, Lee Menszak, associate director and engineer at Merck, gave everyone the rundown on what large and small shippers should be mindful of when shipping products. 

For large shippers on a global scale, they have to know regional user requirements, especially in regard to safety. One of the examples Menszak highlighted is that in the Netherlands warehouse workers have to wear full backpack respirators when loading dry ice. n the U.S. that requirement isn’t necessary. 

Something that is an easy test for various vendors and operating locations of a large shipper is a small test. In theory if everyone is following the same policies and procedures there should be no issues with a test. However, it could be a great way to find a facility that has some shortcomings. 

That test looks a little something like this, according to Menszak. “Load [the packages inside the facilities] up with dry ice, put the temperature monitors in at minimum temp, and you let them run. It doesn’t require a laboratory; it can be in the warehouse. At the end of testing, you may, as I have, find one that’s an underperformer. So from Day One, you have a troublesome shipper. Here’s your justification. Go back to the vendor and say, ‘This one’s bad, we need a replacement.’ And they also know they better give you a good one back because you’re going to test it to find out.”

Temperature checks

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The freezer aisle is going to get a little beefier as the maker of everyone’s favorite dollar burritos and box of taquitos expands its operations. Ruiz Foods, the U.S.’ largest frozen Mexican food manufacturer, is expanding its manufacturing operations to Texas. It is  still maintaining its operations in San Joaquin Valley, California. Following the announcement last year of having co-headquarters in both California and Texas, the company has decided to move all corporate operations to Frisco, Texas. 

Ruiz Foods’ president and chief executive officer, Dan Antonelli, said in a news release, “As a national business with locations and customers throughout the U.S., being in the center of the country allows us same day access to each of our facilities, puts us closer to our customers, and provides us with a larger metropolitan market for talent recruitment.”

Food and drugs

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

It’s unofficially summertime and with that comes the endless invitations to cookouts, most starting this holiday weekend. It turns out more than a few Americans are looking to fire up the grills over the long weekend. According to a FoodMarket article, meat purchases for this weekend are expected to total $1.6 billion, with beef claiming the top spot at 27.3%. 

Comparing meat prices this year with those from last year’s holiday weekend showed that overall meat prices are up only a small amount from last year. The star of every barbecue is the beef burger. Ground beef prices this year for the 74-84% lean average $4.62 per pound, discounted, which is up 3% from last year. The good news is that beef that’s 90-94% lean is actually down 20 cents per pound from last year. 

The one category that is coming out cheaper than last year is about all things pork: ribs complex and back, spare ribs, bacon, steaks and the best cut, in my opinion, the St. Louis-style ribs. All of these cuts have decreased at least 30 cents per pound or more from last year’s prices. 

However you slice it, it’s a big weekend for the grill. I’m accepting grill pics via Twitter. You can tag me @MaryO_119.

Cold chain lanes


This week’s market is Des Moines, Iowa, home of the pork chop and corn, two things that summer would be nothing without. Since this weekend is Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer, it’s fair to say that reefer activity in Des Moines will become quite the market over the next few weeks. Outbound tender volumes have risen 8.54% week over week and will continue to rise as summer gets into full swing with cookouts and barbecues galore. Outbound tender rejections are elevated 912 basis points w/w. There will be another spike in rejections as the holiday weekend comes and goes. 

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Wanna chat in the cooler? Shoot me an email with comments, questions or story ideas at [email protected]

See you on the internet.


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