Temperature management risks during sea-freight export of mangoes to Asia

Monitoring of commercial mango export supply chains over the past two seasons has identified a number of instances of poor temperature management that can impact on the fruit quality upon arrival in Asian countries. Poor temperature management can occur at most steps in the supply chain, from farm to retailer, as summarised in the following table.

Figure 1 (page 23) illustrates temperatures at three positions within a pallet after vapour heat treatment and forced air cooling through to arrival in Beijing. Air temperatures around the fruit reached the recommended 12°C following forced air cooling. Temperatures increased in the middle and top of the pallet en-route to the port, and then stayed relatively consistent through the sea journey to Shanghai. 

   Figure 1:    Air temperatures in layer 1 (bottom of pallet), layer 5 (middle) and layer 14 (top) in a seafreight consignment from North Queensland to Beijing (China) via Shanghai (courtesy of Manbulloo). The pallet was unloaded at Shanghai and road-freighted to Beijing.

Figure 1: Air temperatures in layer 1 (bottom of pallet), layer 5 (middle) and layer 14 (top) in a seafreight consignment from North Queensland to Beijing (China) via Shanghai (courtesy of Manbulloo). The pallet was unloaded at Shanghai and road-freighted to Beijing.

Scott Ledger, Quality and Export Manager at Manbulloo, said that customers usually want seven to ten days shelf life after arrival to allow for sale and distribution to retailers. With the preferred ripeness to be no more than 50% skin yellowing and the fruit to be still firm. 

When removed from the container the fruit were riper than expected with an average skin colour of 70% yellowing and the firmness was sprung to firm soft. The temperature monitoring showed that the middle and top of the pallet were 2-3°C higher than optimum, which resulted in the fruit being advanced in ripeness. Fortunately, demand was strong and most of the shipment was distributed within five days of unloading the container.

Acknowledgements: The Serviced Supply Chains project is funded by the Hort Frontiers Asian Markets Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland (DAF), Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Victoria), The University of Southern Queensland, Manbulloo (mangoes), Montague Fresh (summerfruit), Glen Grove (citrus) and contributions from the Australian Government.

Article submitted by Noel Ainsworth and Yiru Chen from DAF.

For more information contact: Noel Ainsworth, Principal Supply Chain Horticulturist, at DAF; noel.ainsworth@daf.qld.gov.au or (07) 3708 8563.