Disruption has become a buzzword, we hear it every second day! Everyone in digital technology wants to be the Uber of their respected industry. Thinking back in history, disruption has continued through the years. The car has replaced the horse, passenger ships replaced by airplanes, you don’t have to look hard to find an example. The timeline I am going to share in this article is no different but is, however, incredibly interesting because we are not sure how it will end?

Granted, it was about a year ago that I was made aware of this relationship, so I may not remember every detail. It has stuck in my mind, so I thought I would share thetimeline and the learnings I have taken from it.

The starting point:

The spicetrade ran between the 8th – 15th centuries AD between Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A massive driver toward the demand for spice was the thought that spice preserved meat. We all know now that itjust masked the taste. This demand coupled with the limited supply saw theprice of spice skyrocket!

The first disruption:

The first disruption of the spice trade occurred with the harvesting and shipping of ice. Ice went from a consequence of winter to a commodity in the very early 1800’s. People realized that ice had preservation qualities and it was harvested in the United States and Norway and shipped throughout the world.

This drastically reduced the cost of spice.

The second disruption:

The second disruption came about for one simple reason, ice melts.

In order to meet the demand for ice vapor-compression, refrigeration was invented to make more ice. By the early 1900s refrigeration had evolved into the insulated refrigeration boxes we know today and became the primary method of preservation of meat. Thereby reducing the need for harvesting and shipping of ice and in turn reducing the cost of ice.

The third disruption:

Will the refrigerator be disrupted? How will this disruption take place? How will it affect current infrastructure? Which technologies will aid in the disruption of refrigeration?

These are all question being asked now, yes NOW, not in the future, now!

We don’t know exactly how this will happen, but I would like to take you through my thoughts.

Something to think about:

Amazon is already working on drone delivery. Amazon Prime delivers within hours. With 64% of US households having Amazon Prime and the coming ability to reduce the delivery times with drones, would it be a big leap to expect fresh produce to be delivered within minutes? Who would need a fridge?

The questions I would like to think about is, would this disrupt industrial refrigeration or only households? Would the produce come straight from the farmsor warehouses? Is there going to be a need for large retailers?


What I takeout of this timeline is that no matter how ubiquitous /common/necessary aproduct may be. With changing customer needs and technology, they can always be disrupted.

The above changes are subsequent to changing customer needs, changing technologies and perception.

The last question I will ask you is, what are you doing in your industry to keep from being disrupted?