The value of time and temperature history information for the distribution of perishables

Gary M. Gaukler*, Rob A. Zuidwijk, Michael E. Ketzenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We model a supply chain that transports a perishable product from product origin to a destination market via a waypoint. The operational decision of interest is the transportation mode choice from the waypoint to the destination market, dependent on available information, including time and temperature history via RFID and sensors. We use analytical modeling to derive optimal transportation policies and generate generalizable, managerial insights. We then apply the analytical model in a numerical case study investigating the transportation of vine-ripened tomatoes from the Netherlands to the United States. Our analytical and numerical studies result in a number of interesting findings. First, the quality of sensor measurements may or may not impact the optimal policy and the decision maker can be guided accordingly. Second, better information may enable more profitable transport decisions, but doing so can have a negative impact on product quality at the destination. Third, we show that more stringent quality requirements by retailers may drive salvaging produce at the waypoint and thereby negatively impact service levels, despite penalties. Fourth, we identify the factors that drive the value of information under multiple information scenarios and establish both the direction and magnitude of their effects. Finally, both the analytical and numerical findings indicate that the information value is robust under measurement error. Thus, even if measurements are not perfect, RFID and sensor technology enabled information can be used to dynamically adjust forwarding decisions for perishable products, which can yield significant improvements to operational performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-639
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2023

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© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


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