Technology has changed the handling of perishables and in turn opened up markets.
Going back to the 1970’s, fruit from Central America arrived at what is now the Port of Baltimore’s South Locust Point Marine Terminal. At the time, the facility, built by the then Maryland Port Authority, was a state of the art distribution center and the second most popular site in the area, sitting adjacent to Fort McHenry, the home of the “Star Spangled Banner”.
The banana terminal was labor intensive, but quite sophisticated in its time. In the hold of refrigerated vessels was fresh fruit - mostly bananas - in cardboard boxes. As soon as the vessel docked and hatches opened, the boxes were manhandled onto conveyors for discharge. Each box was color coded, indicating where they were to go once inside the terminal’s warehouse. The inside conveyors, with coordinating colors, were set to directly distribute them. The fruit rarely sat at the terminal for long and the color coding indicated where and how the boxes were to be moved inland. Waiting at designated locations were longshoremen to direct and load either refrigerated trucks or boxcars for rail travel, hastening the distribution process.
In 2016, the International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, issued a case study on projected refrigerated export markets. Assessing the global market for interested U.S. manufacturers and service providers, they dubbed the shipping and distribution of temperature sensitive commodities, “The Cold Chain”.
“The Cold Chain” was defined as “The transport of temperature sensitive products along a supply chain through the use of thermal and refrigerated packaging.” The technology utilized to realize this goal was the application of the physical means to insure appropriate temperature conditions along the supply chain. The report indicated that there was an expansion of commodities dependent upon this technology which included food, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies…
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