Fruits and Vegetables: Best Way To Transport Fresh Produce

Moving fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm to distribution locations is very crucial and requires multiple stages of transportation. Transporting fresh produce exposes them to physical damage, chemical alteration, and microbial contamination when not transported safely.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 60% of fruits and vegetables are wasted and end up in landfills. Global food waste totaled 1.4 billion tons in 2021 and was responsible for 11% of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

Factors affecting fruits and vegetables during transportation

Fresh produce, especially those with soft skins or juicy flesh, including tomatoes, leafy greens, and peaches, are more prone to diseases from both plants and people. Fruit that is bruised, infected spots, or overripe shouldn’t be transported. Before transferring fresh produce, ensure quality sorting of produce to eliminate low-quality ones from the transfer containers.

The quality of vegetables and other commodities can be greatly influenced by temperature and humidity. The temperature friend zone, which is defined as the range of temperatures between (40°C – 140°C ), is where many pathogens develop quickly. Numerous infections that are present in produce can be controlled by cooling it as soon as it is picked and preserving it cool during storage and transportation. Read below the temperature and humidity recommendations for safe storage and transport of fresh produce.

Temperature and humidity for vegetables transport and storage

The best temperature recommended for safe vegetable transportation can be divided into three sub-categories of low, mid, and high temperatures with a temperature range of 0°C – 18°C.

  • List of vegetables that require a low temperature of 0°C to 2°C and 90 -98% humidity
    • Cabbage
    • Lettuce
    • Peas
    • Turnip greens
    • Mustard greens
  • List of vegetables that require a mid-temperature of C to 10°C and 85 -95% humidity
    • Eggplants
    • Cucumbers
    • Okra
    • Peppers
    • Beans
  • List of vegetables that require a high temperature of 13°C to 18°C and 85 -95% humidity
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Tomatoes
    • Carrots
    • Squash
fruits and vegetables
Cabbage plant at the horticulture section

Temperature and humidity for fruits transport and storage

Temperature and humidity for fruitsCommon Fruits
Low-temperature and high-humid fruits
0°C to 2°C and 90 -98%
Cut fruits
Mid-temperature and mid-humid fruits
C to 10°C and 85 -95%
Passion fruits
High-temperature and mid-humid fruits
13°C to 18°C and 85 -95%
Canary melons
Honeydew melons
Open sun transport is not the best practice

Transporting fruits and vegetables

Trucks, trailers, carts, and in some locations tractors are frequently used to move fresh farm produce. The majority of the time, the farm product becomes bruised due to the conditions of these transporting mediums. Fresh vegetables with bruises are more susceptible to infections and chemical changes. Fresh produce that has been bruised may not pass routine inspection and will either be rejected or result in a loss for the farmer.

Make sure the truck is physically fit before moving farm-fresh goods. A well-maintained vehicle should not bruise the skin of the vegetables it is hauling, as this lowers their quality and adds to microbial infection. Keep in mind that poor-quality fresh product does not draw customers and does not remain on the shelf for very long.

Most importantly, before placing the product in the truck, it must be placed in baskets and containers designed specifically for transporting fresh fruit and veg. Utilizing designated containers helps keep fresh produce in good condition and free of microbial contamination, extending the shelf life of farm products and bringing in higher prices from customers.

Another factor to also consider when using a truck to transport fresh produce, make sure the truck has not been used in carrying farm animals, farm waste, or anything likely to contaminate the vegetable. Even if you have to use the truck to serve all other purposes make sure to disinfect, clean, and make the truck microbial infection free before using it to transport fruits and vegetables.

Key Takeaways

  • Best ways to transport fruits and vegetables:
    • You need to know the right temperature and humidity for safe storage and transport.
    • Disinfect trucks to carry fresh produce to avoid contamination.
    • Avoid bruises on the skin of fresh produce.
    • Use designated containers to transport fresh produce.
    • Keep the fresh produce away from the open sun.
    • Store in a cool dry place in the transport medium.

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