It's air vs. sea in cold chain battle

Watch as air carriers attempt to outdo one another in service offerings--to pharma's benefit. Temperature-controlled and pharma shipping in general are expected to lead the air cargo business recovery. But dropping yields will accompany the pick-up, leading to heightened competition and carriers cozying up to drugmakers.

Consultancy Oliver Wyman, collaborating with the International Air Transport Association, finds in the 2010 global air cargo CEO survey that the most immediate investment priority among the cargo chiefs is e-freight; cold chain capabilities rank near the top, along with security improvements and lightweight containers.

Long-time drug carrier Continental Airlines is watching an influx of competition from the likes of Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways and Nippon Cargo, as we've reported. The air cargo execs say they expect customers to remain "highly price-sensitive," and to evaluate alternative transport modes for the less time-sensitive shipments.

They're right, of course. Sea carriers are casting for pharma business by boosting their cold-chain options and expanding reefer vessel services. Management consultancy Novumed projects "especially strong growth for temperature-controlled pharmaceutical transport," and says high-end shippers are beginning to offer premium services that curb damage to temperature-controlled drug products.

- here's the announcement