Pest Management in the Global Supply Chain

10 May 20247 min reading

Peter de Weert
Managing Director
Control Union Pest Management

Agricultural commodities which are transported, stored and processed in our complex global supply chain, are very often threatened by small insects called stored-product-pests. They are a big danger for the food, feed, milling and tobacco industry as they damage the quality of the product and ultimately decrease absolute volumes. Control Union Pest Management specializes in controlling those pests worldwide; from The Netherlands to Australia and Vietnam.

Controlling pests is not a simple task, as they get to be present in multiple parts of supply chains and are often present in cargo when expected the least.

To contribute to a healthier and safer food industry, Control Union Pest Management has developed and offers two kinds of solutions: Traditional Fumigation and Non-Toxic Fumigation.


Traditional fumigation is a great choice for big sea vessels making the long haul between continents. It mainly uses gases like phosphine that easily diffuses into every part of a cargo hold. This deep penetration, combined with appropriate dosages and treatment time ensures that pests at all stages of their life cycle are exterminated. The real win here is how effective this method is at keeping the cargo in top shape, preventing any damage from pests.

The big advantage of traditional fumigation is the speed and efficiency that Control Union can provide globally. The meticulous fumigation process can still be completed pretty fast, cutting down on wait times and helping ships stick to their tight schedules. This is super important, especially for shipments of goods that need to move quickly. In addition, traditional fumigation methods are highly reliable, providing consistency in results that help companies ensure compliance with international shipping and safety standards.

Safety is primordial, as every treatment has to be done under strict regulations, such as the Gafta standard for Fumigation. This ensures the safety of the Control Union team, as well as vessel crews and other people working on ships at load and discharge ports. With its reliability and effectiveness, it’s no surprise that traditional fumigation is a go-to method for many global shipping companies looking to shield their cargo from pests.


Besides using traditional methods, there are also nontoxic methods and techniques to get rid of stored product pests.

The basic concept is as follows: Cargo is brought into an environment where a slight overpressure can be created. These could be specially designed gastight chambers, but can also be normal silo’s or tarpaulin tents. The next step is to use a technique of flushing natural nitrogen, temporarily retained from the ambient air, into this environment. When more nitrogen is flushed, then is lost through the structure, which will lead to bringing the oxygen levels down to under 2%. At this level, not any liveable pest at any live stage can survive. We created this technique by the base principle of ‘No oxygen, no life’. The advantage of this technique is that we can guarantee the neutralization of all the pests in all the life stages. This means that even eggs and larvae can be exterminated with this technique.

a. Controlled Atmosphere

A controlled atmosphere (CA) setup is becoming a highly favoured method for preventive and curative pest management, especially for protecting valuable dry goods like wheat, barley, rice, nuts, grains, tobacco, flour, and many more. This technique involves placing products in airtight chambers or containers where the oxygen level is significantly reduced. The magic of CA lies in its ability to create an environment that pests simply can’t survive in.

What makes controlled atmosphere treatments so appealing is their non-toxic nature—no harsh chemicals are used, so there’s no danger for workers, no residue left on the products, and no resistance issues. This feature is even more important for commodities intended for human consumption, like food and spices.

These CA chambers and containers can be custom-built to fit any space, whether inside a manufacturing site or outdoors and can be scaled according to the volume needed. Whether it’s a small batch of spices or a large load of rice, controlled atmosphere chambers provide a safe, clean, and efficient solution to keep your products pest-free without compromising on safety or quality.

b. Silo treatments

For Clients having Silos already in their facility, silo treatments can be a great consideration. Control Union Pest management developed a special ‘plug and play system’ that works as follows:

Similar to CA chambers, at the heart of the system is the Machine Room, housed within a standard 20 or 40-foot container, featuring a low-oxygen converter. The process begins with the intake of air into the Machine Room, where the oxygen level is significantly reduced. The treated air, now containing less than 1.5% oxygen, is channelled through a tube into the silo.

With this technique, a low oxygen environment is created just like in the Controlled Atmosphere Chambers. This technique will offer the same benefits as a CA chamber but in a silo. To maintain safety and prevent structural damage to the silo, an Over/Under Pressure Valve with an integrated O2 measuring unit is installed. This critical component regulates the pressure within the silo to prevent im- or explosion and continuously monitors oxygen levels to provide vital information for controlling and assessing the effectiveness of the treatment.

c. Bulk tent non-toxic Treatments

Commodity owners needing to do a treatment can also count on Bulk non-toxic treatments. This technique is very suitable for ‘one time’ treatments as it does not require an upfront investment and is immediately available.

Here’s how it works: We start by assessing the situation, identifying the types and severity of pest infestations, and measuring the actual size of the cargo. Our intervention is designed to be simple and flexible. We ensure the cargo environment is as gastight as possible, place essential wireless sensors for oxygen, temperature, and humidity, and then begin the treatment. Continuous online monitoring of all parameters (O2, temp, relative humidity) allows us to maintain optimal conditions throughout the process. Once the treatment is complete, we remove our equipment, and your product is immediately ready for transport or its intended use, with no degassing required.

d. Heat treatment

A Heat Treatment offers a specialized solution for neutralizing pests in a range of applications such as wooden packaging materials, warehouses, monumental buildings, factories, and antiques. This service is particularly essential for complying with the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15), which regulates wood packaging material in international trade.

The technique involves controlling the ambient temperature within a specific range, typically from 56°C to 75°C (132 to 167°F), to ensure the elimination of pests without damaging the goods. This gradual increase in temperature is meticulously monitored using state-of-the-art equipment to protect the integrity of both delicate and robust items alike.

Whether you need your goods treated in secure containers, require precise conditions in controlled atmospheres, or need a mobile setup, we’ve got you covered. Whatever your situation, we tailor our solutions to fit your specific needs. With our expertise, we guarantee that your goods meet global standards, safeguarding them against pests and ensuring compliance with export regulations, particularly in safeguarding against the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) for regions like Australia and New Zealand.

Control Union Pest Management is committed to safeguarding global supply chains with innovative pest management solutions. Our range of services, from traditional to non-toxic fumigation methods, ensures product safety and compliance with international standards. Whether through Controlled Atmosphere setups, specialized Silo Treatments, or rapid, flexible interventions, we provide environmentally friendly solutions tailored to your needs. Partner with us to keep your shipments secure and your operations smooth, ensuring your goods remain pest-free and of the highest quality.

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