The ice cream supply chain is hot! Ice cream companies have to ensure products maintain their quality as they travel from the manufacturing plant to the distribution center to the retailer, and finally into the consumer’s shopping cart and home.
The risk of an unwanted temperature change tends to be highest when the ice cream is moving from one location—say, a manufacturing plant—to another, such as a delivery truck.
Ice cream production typically starts with a handful of ingredients: water, a milk or cream product, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and sugar. Ice cream producers continue to experiment with this basic recipe and add an ever-expanding number of variations. It also increases the cost and complexity of the ordering, demand planning, forecasting, and inventory functions
The range of products also adds complexity to manufacturing and distribution.
Transport to deep-freeze storage
The food logistics companies ensure that the ice cream is transported in strict adherence to the cold chain to one of the numerous deep-freeze storage facilities, which in turn is responsible for further transport. It is important that the temperature of frozen foodstuffs does not exceed -18 degrees Celsius at all times in the transport, as an uninterrupted cold chain guarantees top quality. Trucks are cooled down before loading to ensure that the ice cream always has the right temperature during transport.
After the transport, the boxes are stored in distribution warehouses for frozen goods at temperatures between -21 and -24 degrees Celsius where optimum conditions are maintained for the ice cream at all times. The ambient temperature is permanently monitored by special sensors. Subsequently, the ice cream is prepared for further transport.
Transport to consumer
Particular challenges are posed by the interfaces in the supply chain, especially while loading goods. The refrigerated vehicle is cooled down before loading. Due to the fact that the ice cream has already been stored between -21 and -24 degrees Celsius, a temperature reserve is created. It is also important that the trailers are loaded at door systems which are tightly sealed and largely free of thermal bridges.
During the transport, professional drivers always keep an eye on the temperature. Special temperature sensors continuously document the temperature in the trailer.
Delivery of goods to the retailers is carried out in a similar manner to the deep-freeze warehouse. Unloading trucks as quickly as possible is essential so that the ice cream can be stored in the deep-freeze room immediately. Only then is the ice cream stocked in the freezer cabinets at the retailers and is made available to the consumers.