Cold Chain Solutions for the Dairy Industry

10/23/2023 by Christine Morris

Cold Chain Solutions for the Dairy Industry

Whether your product is coming straight from the farm, is moving between processing, or heading off to the consumer, the dairy industry needs first-rate cold chain solutions to meet their complex supply chains.

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and butter are household staples and essential in many people’s diets. It’s no surprise that the dairy industry is considered one of the fastest-growing industries, almost doubling in value every five years. To keep up with consumer demand, the dairy industry needs exceptional cold chain solutions to keep their products cold and safe for consumption.

Why the Dairy Industry Needs Cold Chain Solutions

Dairy products all start with milk, and it has a short shelf life. After the cows have been milked, it immediately transports to cooling storage tanks or a chilled trailer. To ensure the milk doesn’t spoil, it must be stored at a temperature no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s then transported to a processing facility, pasteurized, and transported again to consumers.

Usually, this process alone, from cow to store, takes place in about two days. Now, milk is often a starting point for the many diverse dairy products available. Depending on the final product, dairy supply chains have more steps and complexities added.

An infographic titled "Why The Dairy Industry Needs Cold Chain Solutions" and then showing an icon of a barn with an icon of a truck going towards an icon of a storage tank. In between the storage tank and barn is a triangle reading "No Higher Than 40 Degrees Fahrenheit". From the storage tank icon a line leads to an icon of two arrows going opposite ways with the word "pasteurization" between them. From that icon another truck icon is leading towards three icons of dairy items: cheese, ice cream, and milk. In between those icons and the pasteurization is a rectangle with the words "2 Days from Cow to Store" in it. At the bottom is a black graphic with the Trinity Logistics logo and their tagline "People-Centric Freight Solutions."

Common Issues Requiring Cold Chain Solutions

Temperature Control Needed for Most Dairy Products

Most dairy products need storage at specific temperatures to keep from spoiling. Dairy products need strict attention because of the risk posed to consumers if the cold chain is broken. If not consistently kept cold and free of humidity, bacteria in the dairy can cultivate and dairy products can become harmful.

Capacity During Peak Shipping Seasons

While some dairy products can seek out alternative transportation modes, most find shipping truckload is the most viable option. It’s usually the fastest and cheapest way to move the product because of its weight. It’s also the most viable due to freight security and nature of the product, and because it reduces the risk of claims due to temperature fluctuations or shifting. Since most dairy products need refrigerated trucks for their shipments this can make capacity an issue at times, such as produce season, when reefer capacity can be tighter. It can not only be more difficult to secure a refrigerated truck, but more expensive to do so.

Managing Milk Production with Dairy Demand

Dairy product demand can fluctuate. Yet, even when consumers want fewer dairy products, the cows don’t stop making milk. They can’t be turned on and off like machines, giving the dairy industry a unique balancing act to handle.

Additionally, when it comes to shipping milk, most of that is kept regional given the short shelf life and cost to ship, making dairy demand management even trickier.

Supply Chain Disruptions

As we’ve learned in recent years, there’s always the chance for supply chain disruption to happen. Whether that’s a truck breaking down, a roadblock, or some other instance that would cause delays. With several dairy products (like milk) having a short shelf life, any delays can risk product spoiling and going to waste. Companies in the dairy industry need to be able to act quickly if any disruption happens. 

Dairy is Highly Regulated 

Dairy products are associated with foodborne illnesses, so it’s no surprise that they’re highly regulated. Right from the start, milk is tested to ensure it’s of safe quality to consume and make other products from. There’s also the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which places strict requirements on sanitary transportation and the handling of dairy products.

Supply Chain Visibility 

Because of so many factors mentioned above, it’s important for dairy companies to have full, real-time visibility of their supply chains. Additionally, many wholesale food distributors and grocery warehouses hold very strict requirements for appointments with very strict product quality inspections to be accepted into their inventory. Without it, dairy companies are at risk of losing products and money due to spoilage, disruptions, delays, or regulation requirements. 

Potential High Value Products

Certain dairy products can be high value, like some cheeses for example. This can make the overall value of the load to be costly should there be any potential claims. It’s best for shippers to work with expert providers who have the experience and knowledge to handle any high value dairy products.

Leading Cold Chain Solutions from Trinity Logistics

Shippers in the dairy industry looking for first-rate cold chain solutions can find all they need with Trinity Logistics. We’re a leading third-party logistics (3PL) provider with over 40 years of experience serving logistics solutions to some of the top-known brands in the food and beverage sector.

Standard Operating Procedures for Temperature-Controlled Shipments

One of the reasons we excel in cold chain solutions is our standard operating procedures in place for every temperature-controlled shipment we arrange. This includes:

  • Only working with carrier relationships that have downloadable reefer units
  • Requiring carriers to pre-cool trailers a minimum of one to two hours before pickup
  • Requiring carriers to run their reefer units on continuous
  • If necessary, requiring carriers to pulp product before loading
  • Requiring carriers to use one of our tracking and tracing partners for real-time shipment visibility
  • Only using carriers that have refrigerated trailers that are 2015 or newer

We understand just how critical it is that your product stays at its required temperature. That’s why we work with our trusted, experienced carrier relationships to ensure your product arrives fresh.

Multi-Modal Cold Chain Solutions

No matter what transportation mode you need your product to ship, we have the logistics solutions to support your business now and in the future, including;

  • Truckload
  • Expedited
  • International
  • Cross-broder
  • Air or ocean shipping
  • Drayage
  • Less-than-truckload 
  • Managed Transportation

This enables your business to seamlessly run regardless of what change or growth you experience.

In-Depth Transportation Management

Whether you need a transportation management system (TMS), to fully outsource your logistics, or your own customized managed transportation solution, we can help. We know each business is unique, which is why our system is highly configurable so we can meet your exact needs. Our Trinity experts will work as part of your business, offering in-depth reporting and data to help get you ahead of your competitors.

No Need to Worry About Disruptions

Did I mention that Trinity has been serving cold chains for over 40 years? We’ve seen it all when it comes to supply chain disruptions and delays. We know how to quickly adapt plans to keep your freight moving. While you’ll have your sole Trinity relationship to lean on for updates, we also have a 24/7 Team in case we need any additional support. You can learn to rest easy whenever your shipment is in our care.

Experts in Temp-Controlled Logistics and Dairy

Trinity Logistics has been serving cold chains for 40-plus years, in addition to our parent company, Burris Logistics, that was built on its expertise of handling temperature-controlled commodities.

There’s also Honor Foods, another Burris Logistics company you can lean on for food redistribution if needed. Honor Foods is a leading foodservice redistributor with locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions of the U.S. They specialize in frozen, refrigerated, dairy, and dry products with over 3,000 stocked items from 300+ trusted suppliers.

Our People-Centric Service

What makes Trinity unique from other 3PLs and what our customers praise the most is our exceptional People-Centric service. We’re a company built on a culture of family and servant leadership, and that culture shines through in our service to you. It’s our care, compassion, and communication that you’ll notice and appreciate.