“There is nothing new under the sun,” the writer of Ecclesiastes says. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again.”

In reviewing responses to The Packer’s 125th-anniversary survey, I’m not quite sure that the “nothing is new” assertion holds up.

We asked 11 questions in our industry survey, and I’ve covered some of the industry answers in previous blog posts:

Pick three - changes coming in the next 25 years

What is the future of produce wholesalers? Survey says..

Blaming it on the fax; the biggest change agents in the past 25 years

What’s the most important industry development?

Industry weighs in on changes to come in retailing

If only my business had....


For this blog post, the question considered is this:

How has technology changed shipping produce in the last 25 years?

Here are many of the responses from those who took the survey:

  • Shipping is now traceable with the capability of being monitored in real time;
  • Decreased time from field to table and increased safety through traceability;
  • Created longer shelf life - period of time when product looks and tastes good;
  • The entire supply chain has radically changed at every touch point;
  • Technology have helped inventory, border crossing and billing;
  • Better and more efficient cold rooms have given products longer shelf life. Trucks backing up directly to dock doors never breaking the cold chain has led to more consistent deliveries throughout the world;
  • Mobile phones Air ride trailers E logs Better cooling and processing Better packaging;
  • Last 25 years have been focused on logistics. Moving produce around to all the people who need/want it for the lowest possible prices;
  • Refrigeration, plant genetic improvements for flavor and variety, food safety improvements    Ethylene absorption, better trucking refrigeration equipment and tracking devices have been game changers;
  • Protecting the cold chain throughout. Quicker and more reliable truck transportation with products being carried at proper temperature and free from damage. Online buying and selling platforms have decreased the personal one on one relationships between buyer and seller;
  • Little to none;
  • Less direct human contact;
  • Being able to track loads thru GPS still amazes me and actually takes some of the excitement out of predicting when loads get out and arrive;
  • Much improved cold chain management, and how product is handled, and it has to as we have increased supply chain distances and time-lines;
  • Greater climate control and better packaging (including breathable films);
  • Home delivery, pick up at the store of plain/value-added produce, self-driving cars;
  • PTI and voice picking;
  • Remember Canadian Confirmation of Sales that had to be hand typed. Chalk board inventories in Sales offices;
  • Better field cooling. Better temp control at all levels. Accelerated traceability methodology.    automatic sorting, automatic sizing, automatic bagging, automatic stacking, scanning for traceability;
  •  It has great enhanced inventory control leading to a fresher product for the consumer;
  • Improved handling and grading capabilities allows detection of internal defects;
  • Blockchain and extended shelf life applications;
  • Traceability is the most profound impact Every unit can in theory be tracked back to the field and the worker who harvested it; and 
  • Temp tales and GPS pallets. Can’t wait till it all is live and app based.


TK: There is plenty new under the sun for produce shippers, and tech has taken some of the drama out of the industry, as evidenced by the comment, “Being able to track loads thru GPS still amazes me and actually takes some of the excitement out of predicting when loads get out and arrive.”

There is no longer the receiver calling the broker at 11 pm and trying to get a read on where exactly that confounded truck is. Ah, these changing times - they aren't so bad after all.