Perishables transport quality certification initiative builds on PCR regulations and success of the association’s CEIV Pharma standard
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a new industry certification to improve the handling and the transport by air of perishable products.
Its CEIV Fresh (the Centre for Excellence for Perishable Logistics) initiative builds on IATA’s Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR) and on the success of the CEIV Pharma air freight industry standard for the carriage and integrity of life sciences products, launched in 2014 and adopted as best-practice by dozens of air logistics specialists.
IATA said the specific time and temperature requirements for food and plant products make the handling and transporting of perishable products challenging. But it said the CEIV Fresh programme meets these exacting requirements – primarily based on the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR), which combines professional regulatory and operational input from industry and government experts.
Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of cargo, said IATA had taken a community approach to developing CEIV Fresh, “recognising that the successful shipment requires the alignment of many stakeholders”, piloting the scheme with key stakeholders at Hong Kong International Airport. This community approach helps align the needs and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the handling of perishable goods, IATA said.
“Shippers can have peace of mind knowing that every entity handling their goods is operating to the same standards,” Hughes said. “Understanding the value of this to the success of its customers, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) pioneered the world’s first CEIV Fresh certified airport community.”
Alongside AAHK, the other CEIV Fresh launch partners were home carrier Cathay Pacific, and cargo handling terminal operators Cathay Pacific Services Limited (CPSL) and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl). CPSL and Hactl have successfully completed the world’s first CEIV Fresh certifications, with Cathay Pacific undergoing final validation with the aim to complete in April.
Preparations for certification
Hactl said it began its preparations in October 2018, with key staff undergoing training by IATA in November and the company making a number of refinements to its terminal and processes. Assessment and validation were then carried out in December 2018 and January 2019, respectively.
Among its preparations, Hactl created a fast-track ‘Fresh Lane’ through its handling processes, designed to create an organised and structured journey through its facility nand so minimise the time taken to unload perishable cargo and either release it to customers, or place it in temperature-controlled storage. The Fresh Lane is modelled on Hactl’s successful ‘Golden Route’, which was introduced for the expedited handling of pharmaceuticals in 2013 and won it the first WHO GDP and IATA CEIV Pharma accreditations in Hong Kong.
Hactl’s new perishables handling procedures are based around the ‘HACCP’ (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) concept, which identifies and deals with potential threats to perishables safety. The over-riding aim of HACCP is to minimise the amount of perishables cargo that becomes unfit for consumption during transit, the handler explained.
Critical control points
Hactl identified four such Critical Control Points within its operations, which have been successfully dealt with through, for example, the use of thermal dollies to maintain optimum temperatures. Among other upgrades are the segregation of different perishable commodities through dedicated truck docks, and the mapping and visual marking of optimum storage positions in its cool rooms – its so-called ‘Blue Belt’.
Dedicated active ULD charging areas have also been installed, already stringent hygiene and pest-control practices have been tightened further, and suppliers have been instructed on what they must do to comply with the new standard.
Benny Siu, Hactl’s senior manager for safety, sustainability and quality assurance, commented: “The IATA training was an excellent starting point to ensure we understood the standard, and it gave us the opportunity to raise our own questions after reading the IATA PCR and IATA CEIV Fresh Audit Checklist. This enabled us to make a prompt start on the certification process.
“With CEIV Fresh, you have to forget the many years for which you may have handled perishable cargo: it’s a hurdle if you think in this way. What we have done with CEIV Fresh is to further enhance our existing high standards through careful self-scrutiny, detailed planning, and making modifications where required.”
Hactl CEO Wilson Kwong commented: “Certification such as CEIV Fresh is very useful to benchmark the quality and standard of an organization, and Hactl applauds both IATA’s initiative in driving the adoption of CEIV Fresh throughout the industry, and HKIA’s leadership of this project in Hong Kong. We urge all air cargo businesses to join this movement towards uniformity, which will create higher service standards for perishables handling across the industry.”
AAHK’s CEO Fred Lam commented: “We are delighted to be the first airport community worldwide recognised by IATA under the CEIV Fresh programme, which is a big encouragement to and affirmation of the capability of the Hong Kong airport community in handling perishable products. HKIA is the world’s busiest cargo airport since 2010; with the new certification, HKIA is well-placed to capture the increasing growth opportunities in the market for fresh and perishable goods.”
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, commented: “Perishable goods is a growing market for air cargo; ensuring that these delicate and short shelf-life products reach the customer unspoiled with minimal waste and loss is essential,” highlighted. Shippers will have assurance that CEIV Fresh certified companies are operating to the highest quality and standards in the transport of perishable products.”
The IATA Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) programmes are standardised global certification programmes that support excellence in the transport and handling of special cargo products across the world. CEIV Fresh follows on from CEIV Pharma for the transport of temperature-sensitive healthcare shipments and CEIV Live Animals for the transport of live animals.