ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Air cargo containers that maintain a consistent temperature have helped Costco Wholesale here improve the freshness of perishables destined for its Hawaii stores.
The retailer is considering expanding its use of these containers for shipping other perishables long distances.
"These containers are like a mini-cooler on the product, versus using blankets and dry ice to maintain the temperature," said Ken Kimble, assistant general merchandise manager, fresh foods for Costco. "This has also improved freshness considerably."
The containers are currently used to ship strawberries and cherries to Hawaii from the U.S. mainland.
The retailer may employ them to transport Chilean produce, including raspberries, plums and grapes, which currently travel in shipboard containers.
A decision could be made on expanded use of the containers by the end of the year, Kimble said.
"There might be an opportunity if we get good freight rates from the airlines," he said.
The containers maintain a consistent temperature for the strawberries and cherries during the 10 to 12 hours the products are in transit from San Francisco to Costco's four warehouse clubs in Hawaii.
Two of its club stores are located on the island of Oahu, one is on Maui and the other club store is located on the island of Hawaii.