From Farm to Table: Best Practices for Storage and Transportation of Fruits and Vegetables

From Farm to Table: Best Practices for Storage and Transportation of Fruits and Vegetables


March 6, 2023


It is crucial for both farmers and businesses to reduce post-harvest losses throughout the food supply chain. With consumers becoming more aware and conscious about their food choices and farm-to-table concept, handling and distribution of perishables are a must. 

This all comes down to following the best practices for the storage and transportation of fruits and vegetables. Here’s what you all need to know! 

Why Post-Harvest Technology Is Important 

Fruits and vegetables continue with the process of respiration and other biological processes even after harvesting. These factors can influence post-harvest quality and losses. Additionally, the ripening rate (ethylene production) has to be taken into account. 

Since fruits, vegetables, and root crops contain 65 to 95 per cent water, post-harvest life depends on the rate at which water losses occur and the stored food reserves used. Hence, when the food and water reserve in the produce gets exhausted, the produce starts to decay and dies. 

Overall, it is the interaction of various metabolic and environmental factors that lead to deterioration and the main causes include water loss, diseases and pests, chilling injuries, physical injuries, etc. 

Hence, the use of the right post-harvest technology can help minimize losses and maintain quality as high as possible. 


Best Practices for Storage: Temperature Management 

Temperature control plays a key role in extending the shelf-life of fresh commodities or produce after harvest. Usually, temperature management starts by rapidly removing field heat using either of the following cooling methods.

  • Hydro cooling
  • In-package ice
  • Top icing
  • Evaporative cooling
  • Room cooling
  • Forced air cooling
  • Serpentine forced air cooling
  • Vacuum cooling
  • Hydro-vacuum cooling

Post that, the commodities are stored in cold storage facilities.

Key Aspects of a Cold Storage Facility

Cold storage solutions should be well constructed and equipped with the features discussed below. 

  • Robust construction with insulation and vapour barrier 
  • Sturdy and secure flooring 
  • Doors for loading and unloading
  • Uniform distribution of refrigerated air 
  • Appropriately placed controls 
  • Adequate refrigerated coil surface
  • Enough capacity to meet the needs 
  • Effective stacking solutions of the produce 

Rinac’s cold room storage solutions have been used for decades across various industries for their flexibility, scalability, energy-savings, modular designs, and robust construction. Explore our cold storage solutions here

Best Practices for Storage: Humidity Control 

Humidity levels control the water losses, decay, occurrence of physiological disorders, and ripening. Ideally, the relative humidity levels should be between 85 and 95 per cent for the majority of fruits, 95 to 98 per cent for vegetables (pumpkins and onions at 70—75 per cent), and about 95 to 100 per cent for root vegetables. 

Relative humidity can be controlled by the following methods. 

  • Adding moisture to the air by humidifiers
  • Regulating air movement with respect to produce
  • Maintaining coil temperature to 1˚C difference to air temperature
  • Wetting the floor in the storage room
  • Adding crushed ice 

Here’s a look at the ideal storage conditions required for common fruit and vegetable.



Apples 30-40 90-95 1-12 months
Apricots 31-32 90-95 1-week



Blackberries 31-32 90-95 2-3 days
Black currants 31-32 90-95 1-4 weeks
Gooseberries 31-32 90-95 1-2 weeks
Raspberries 31-32 90-95 2-3 days
Strawberries 32 90-95 3 -7 days
Cherry(sour) 32 90-95 3 -7 days
Cherry(sweet) 30-31 90-95 2-3 weeks
Peaches 31-32 90-95 2-4 weeks
Pears 29-31 90-95 2-7 months



Onions, green 32 95-100 3-4 weeks
Onion dry 32 65-70 1-8 months
Potatoes, early crop 40 90-95 4-5 months
Potatoes late crop 38-40 90-95 5-10 months
Carrot mature 32 98-100 7-9 months
Cauliflower 32 95-98 3-4 weeks
Cucumber 50-55 95 10-14 days
Pumpkins 50-55 50-70 2-3 months





Rate (Btu\ton\24 hrs)

Very low <5 Nut, dates, dried fruits and vegetables
Low 5-10 Apples, grape, garlic, onion, potato(mature), sweet potatoes
Moderate 10-20 Apricot, cherry, peach, pear, plum, cabbage, carrot, tomato and potato (immature)
High 20-40 Strawberry, blackberry, lima bean, raspberry, cauliflower
Very high 40-60 Snap bean, green onion, brussels, sprouts


Best Practices for Transportation 

Transporting fresh produce presents many challenges due to temperature sensitivities and perishability and, thus, requires complete adherence to all sanitary regulations. Fresh produce is used for fruits and vegetables that have not undergone any processing. When the word “fresh” appears on a product’s label or in another labelling that suggests or implies that the item is unprocessed, it refers to the food’s natural condition without any freezing, thermal processing, or other preservation methods.

Challenges in Transporting Fresh Produce

Transportation is the critical and most costly part of the marketing channel of fresh commodities. It involves multiple steps from the point of origin to the point of use and depends on the distance, perishability, and value of the produce. 

The most damage and losses during non-refrigerated transportation are caused due to overheating (inadequate temperature control) and mechanical damage (crushing of packages in the container). Every year, a huge quantity of fresh produce is lost during transportation, causing losses. Also, fruit or vegetables that have passed their prime state may lose flavour and nutrients or even cause health problems.

These challenges need to be controlled by taking the appropriate actions.

Here’s a look at fruits and vegetables classified by susceptibility to injury by temperatures below 320 F.

Group 1

Most susceptible

Group 2

Moderately susceptible

Group 3

Least susceptible

Apricots Apples Beets


Broccoli, sprouting Brussels Sprouts
Beans, snap


Cabbage, new Cabbage, mature and savoy
Berries (except cranberries) Carrots Kale
Cucumbers Cauliflower Kohlrabi
Okra Grapes Turnip

Choosing the best mode of transportation

Here are some options businesses use when transporting fresh fruits and vegetables. 

  • Road transportation: Road transport is used significantly around the world to transport fresh produce. This method is beneficial for short distances that are not accessible by other means of transport. Both open non-refrigerator trucks and refrigerated trucks are used for transportation, however, refrigerated trucks are recommended because they maintain the right temperature and humidity levels. 

Rinac’s ChillKart, eutectic refrigerated trucks require NO FUEL or ENERGY to refrigerate and instead maintain cold temperatures during transportation with eutectic plates placed inside the insulated truck body. ChillKart reduces your annual expense significantly by almost 50% when compared to reefer trucks! 

  • Railway transportation: Railway transportation may be less expensive than other options. Refrigerated and insulated wagons are required for the transportation of fresh produce. 
  • Water transportation: It is generally used for long journeys and is an efficient and cheap mode of transport. However, waterways transport is unsuitable for highly perishable products.
  • Air transportation: Air transportation is faster than other transportation methods. This mode is suitable for transporting highly perishable fresh produce. However, it is expensive and a small volume may be transported. Using a refrigeration system in air transportation for fresh products is necessary. The refrigerating system used in air travel is less efficient than other methods so it’s not highly recommended.   

Final Words 

Farm-to-table concept is gaining popularity and that is why adopting the best-in-class post-harvest technologies have become a must. To maintain the nutritional value, quality, and freshness of the commodities including fruits and vegetables, it is high time you follow the best storage and transportation practices and invest in the right cold chain solutions. 

To know more about how you can maximize your profits, get in touch with us today! 

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