Background: There is a logistical gap in the first section of the apple supply chain that affects the temperature profiles of apples further downstream in the supply chain.
Objectives: This article’s main objective is to confirm whether the logistics processes, in terms of the temperature profile of apples for the first 48 hours post-harvest, have an influence on the yield and/or quality of the fruit.
Method: Observations were made and informal interviews were conducted on three different farms to ascertain their perspective of the first section of the supply chain. Temperature trials were conducted to analyse the temperature profile of two apple varieties, namely Golden Delicious and Granny Smith on three different farms. These trials were conducted by placing an iButton® device on the inside and outside of an apple to measure the temperature readings every minute for the first 48 hours after picking.
Results: The research identified that it is not only at what time the apples are being harvested, but also at what time the apples are placed under cooling conditions to remove the field heat to obtain the recommended temperature profile within 48 hours. In addition, it was determined that effective and efficient picking at the right time (especially between 07:00 and 09:00) and the transportation of the apples directly, or as soon as possible after the apples came out of the orchard to the centralised cold storage facility, are key in ensuring the quality of the fruit and the temperature profile necessary for export.
Conclusion: This article identifies the need to improve operational procedures along the cold chain. From this research, it is clear that there are problem areas that affect the temperature profile of apples.