PYIN OO LWIN, MYANMAR - Japanese expertise in cold-chain logistics is lifting the spirits of strawberry farmers in Myanmar, radically reducing damage due to poor transportation methods and heat before their produce is delivered to consumers in commercial capital Yangon.
Refrigerated trucks supplied by Premium Sojitz Logistics Co., a Japan-Myanmar joint venture, transport strawberries daily from Pyin Oo Lwin in central Myanmar at temperatures that never exceed 8 degrees Celsius.
The city near Mandalay is known for its proximity to the country’s largest strawberry fields, but the fruit has long been stored along with luggage on long-haul buses before being delivered to wholesale markets in Yangon.
Japanese trading house Sojitz Corp. group established the joint venture in 2015 with Premium Distribution Co., a subsidiary of retail and logistics firm City Mart Holding Co., to help the Myanmar partner modernize its wholesale operations.
Ichiro Uesawa, managing director of the joint venture, has arranged for Myanmar strawberry farmers to visit Japan so they can see the integrated food cold-chain from fruit producers through retail outlets.
Nay Lin Tun, a 33-year-old farmer, has expressed keen interest in Japan’s modern logistics know-how. The adoption of refrigerated transportation is “rewarding, as we suffer less product losses than before,” he said.
His strawberries are now sold at high-end supermarkets in Yangon, and are gaining a favorable reputation among consumers. He plans to switch from his current strawberry varieties to sweeter Taiwanese ones next season.
Saw Tun Min Kyaw — Pyin Oo Lwin’s biggest strawberry farmer, who boasts a daily shipment of up to 3 tons — credits the Japanese refrigerated transport technology with equalizing the quality of strawberries and sharply limiting losses, from an average 25 percent loss of shipments in the past.
Premium Sojitz Logistics now collects nearly 60 percent of the total strawberry shipments from farmers in the city, which was formerly known as Maymyo, Uesawa said.
He also said his joint venture has decided to start exporting Myanmar strawberries by air to Thailand in January. He added that the firm has also received inquiries about the transportation of vegetables and fresh flowers in Myanmar.