World of food

Nov. 1, 1999
"It's the incredible demand put on today's families that continues to drive our business."Bringing together the supply and demand for temperature-sensitive products means linking together cities, countries, and continents. Today, Americans are eating papayas, Africans are eating ice cream, and Asians are eating Iowa beef. Amazing. Critical to closing the loop on the world's food chain is sophisticated

"It's the incredible demand put on today's families that continues to drive our business."

Bringing together the supply and demand for temperature-sensitive products means linking together cities, countries, and continents. Today, Americans are eating papayas, Africans are eating ice cream, and Asians are eating Iowa beef. Amazing. Critical to closing the loop on the world's food chain is sophisticated transportation equipment. Equipment that includes reliable, precise temperature control systems.

Incredibly, the number of food products imported to the United States continues to increase dramatically - doubling over the past seven years and expected to increase an additional 30% by 2002. Finished and fully packaged food products account for an increasing proportion of all imported foods. In addition, there has been a huge increase in fresh produce from all over the world.

Between 1997 and 1998, however, the number of agricultural products exported from the U.S. fell from $57 billion to $52 billion. The weakest link is from the Western Hemisphere to Asia. One exception to this is South Korea; exports have risen considerably as that economy recovers from recession. As you may expect, U.S. exports to Europe have been growing modestly.

The future of food product imports and exports, as well as the future of the transport temperature control industry, depends on a high level of sophistication and disposable income. Simply put, it's the incredible demand put on today's families that continues to drive our business. Take the United States, for example. If both parents work, there is no time for daily shopping. Convenience foods and frozen meals are the mainstay. Europe's economy closely follows this phenomenon.

Today, Thermo King's focus is on Asia and South America. Although agricultural production has been a major component of trade from these regions, in the aggregate they have not achieved success. The prices of most agricultural commodities have fallen globally over the past 15 years. The developing countries must rely on shipping larger volumes of commodities to maintain their export earnings.

This is where I believe the transportation industry can help. There needs to be infrastructure developed to support food trade. I firmly believe in the Thermo King dealer organization, with over 800 authorized dealers located throughout the world. Expanding our dealer network to emerging countries is sure to foster growth.

On the other hand, to expand world food trade means we open the door to higher safety risks. While the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, outbreaks of food-borne illness are too prevalent even here.

>From farm to table, there are countless opportunities for contamination. >From pesticides to processing to proper temperature control. Each step in the food chain is critical in securing food safety. While President Clinton's Council on Food Safety will develop (by November 1) a strategic plan to further improve safety of the American food supply, at Thermo King we continue to improve our equipment for better quality control worldwide. Enhanced microprocessor controls and state-of-the-art dataloggers are better ensuring the safe transport of food, no matter the distance traveled. And we are looking at other parts of the cold chain to improve food quality.

At Thermo King, our goal is to continue to shrink the world by bringing quality food to every continent, in every type of climate. Our temperature control equipment will continue to make the world better.

About the Author

Sean Kinsella | president

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