Interest is growing in a new industry certification program for handling and transport by air of perishable goods, according to the International Air Transport Association.
The trade organization launched the Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Fresh last March as a way to standardize procedures and best practices to globally meet exacting customer and regulatory requirements for fast transit and temperature management.
The goal is to give shippers confidence that certified companies have protocols in place to ensure fresh meat, fish, dairy, fruits, vegetables, flowers and other products that are delicate, or have short shelf lives, are delivered unspoiled. As more parties in the supply chain strengthen their cold chain capabilities the more shipments will retain their integrity.
Perishable goods are a growth area, with higher profit margins, for an air cargo industry that is experiencing an overall slump in volumes.
Five carriers and six ground handlers are currently undergoing certification as a center of excellence for perishable logistics, IATA spokeswoman Katherine Kaczynska said.
Last month, Etihad Airways cargo arm became the second airline after Cathay Pacific Airways to achieve CEIV Fresh certification and the second after Cathay to achieve both CEIV Fresh and CEIV Pharma certification.
Other than carriers, the following handling agents have been CEIV Fresh certified so far:
- Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited
- Cathay Pacific Services Limited
- Alha Group in Milan and in Rome
- Etihad Airport Services
Etihad Cargo's temperature-controlled service is called FreshForward. The company plans more investments to grow the product offering, Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, managing director for cargo and logistics, said in a statement. Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad's home base, is developing an expanded cold storage facility as part of its cargo infrastructure development strategy.
To become CEIV Fresh certified, companies must have personnel take a three-day IATA training course for quality control, food safety and risk management; assess shipments against an audit checklist; and conduct a final validation to close any procedural gaps discovered during the assessment. The certification is valid for three years.