Transporting perishable goods and fresh produce is fraught with higher risks than regular dry cargo. There’s a risk of spoilage and loss of freshness and quality.
Perishable goods need a specialized mode of transportation, refrigerated trailers, or reefers. It enables the movement of goods like fruits, vegetables, seafood, some medicine and other pharma products, dairy and bakery products, meat, and flowers and plants. Refrigerated trucking helps connect farmers, bakers, meat production plants, pharma companies with markets and ensures end customers even at remote locations get fresh and quality products.
While reefers are in use all year round, its demand increases during the fresh produce season.
While reefers are in use all year round, its demand increases during the fresh produce season. Given that the season is now in full swing, let’s take a look at what factors should be considered by both shippers and transporters while transporting fresh produce and perishable goods.
What important factors should shippers keep in mind while transporting fresh produce?
Each fresh produce or perishable product has a specific shipping requirement, like the mode of transportation to be used, type of container, temperature settings, and the transit time it can tolerate.
If even one of the transport requirements of perishables is not met, the goods can become unfit for consumption
If even one of the transport requirements of perishables is not met, the goods can become unfit for consumption or further processing. To ensure that this does not happen, here are a few points that shippers must keep in mind while transporting their fresh produce:
Complete Product Knowledge: This is non-negotiable. For safe and smooth transport of their perishable products or fresh produce, it is necessary for shippers to have complete knowledge about their product. Some important things that shippers and their teams should know about the fresh/perishable product they deal in are:
- Packaging requirements of the product.
- The best method and transport mode to ship it.
- What is the coolant required for it – gel packs, dry ice, dry ice pellets?
- The temperature needs of the product while in transit.
- How long it remains fresh and fit for consumption.
- Tolerable transit time for the product.
- The documents/formalities required in both the importing and exporting state/country.
Conduct a Market Study: It’s important to find the right market for fresh produce, especially for those products that spoil easily. It’s financially beneficial for the shipper if this product reaches the market quickly and in good condition. It’s also beneficial for the buyers as they get better quality and fresh products. So before you decide on a specific market, conduct a study to find out:
- Where all your product is in demand
- The rate at which you can sell the product there
- The transit time is taken to reach the destination
- Any specific customs formalities/documents required by the importing state for this product
Once you have this information ready, you can pick the best possible combination of market, rate, and transport requirements.
Choose the Right Transporter: If fresh produce is not managed correctly during transit, the quality and shelf life can be negatively affected. Thus, the choice of the transporter can make a huge difference in how your product is shipped. So, when you’re searching for a transporter, you must check the following:
- The track record of the transporter in trucking perishable goods.
- Do they have the requisite experience?
- Do they have the required vehicles and containers?
- Is the equipment well-maintained, cleaned, and serviced regularly?
- Are the drivers trained to manage the special equipment and carry perishable or fresh produce?
- Do they have tie-ups with service centers en route, in case the equipment or vehicle needs emergency servicing?
- Can they replace the container or the carrier in case of a breakdown?
- What is the transit time being offered?
In case you need multimodal transportation to ship your cargo, carry out this exercise for all the transporters in the chain.
Provide Clear Instructions: Once you’ve selected the transporter(s), it is important to communicate instructions specific to your product clearly to them. Make sure they know how the product is to be handled, the temperature to be maintained throughout the transit, and if it is an LTL shipment, then which products/goods can it not be carried with or kept close to. In the case of multimodal transportation, provide a set of instructions to each transporter and make sure each transporter knows who to hand over the cargo and onward shipping instructions to.
Communication with the Buyer: It’s often observed that while the goods reach the destination safely, they get spoiled at the buyer’s facility for lack of proper instructions on how to manage/store the goods. Hence, it is necessary to make sure that proper instructions have also been communicated to the buyer.
Get Adequate Insurance Coverage: Transporting perishables and fresh produce is expensive. There is also a risk of spoilage on the way. This is why insurance is critical in such cases. So before you put your cargo in transit, make sure you have the right insurance coverage for the cargo. This will ensure that you have financial support in case the cargo does not reach the destination in the best condition.
What Important Factors Should the Transporters Keep in Mind When Transporting Fresh Produce?
The transporter is responsible for the fresh produce while the goods are in transit. Hence, it is necessary for transporters to also have a checklist for perishable goods and fresh produce. Here are some important points that they should keep in mind when accepting fresh produce goods for transportation:
- Communicate Clearly with the Shipper: Transporting perishable goods is a serious business. Make sure you share the correct information regarding transit time, the route to be taken, contingency plans, documentation requirements, and payment terms with the shipper at the time of inquiry. This not only helps the shipper make an informed decision but also makes your business look professional and trustworthy. And, it’s great for building long term business relationships in the industry.
- Get All Required Details from the Shipper: The transporter should double-check if the shipper has supplied all the required information or not. In case any crucial detail regarding the product is missing, he should proactively ask for it from the shipper.
- Discuss Packaging Requirements: Check with the shipper how the goods will be packed and labeled. In case there are any specific requirements for packaging and labeling at your end, communicate the same to the shipper. It is important to get the packaging and labeling right in case of perishable goods as they need to be handled with care and can spoil easily.
- Understand Handling and Temperature Instructions: For perishable goods, the transporter needs to understand how the goods are to be handled and what temperature is to be maintained while the goods are in transit. Also, check if there are any specific guidelines on how the temperature is to be managed while the cargo is being loaded/unloaded.
- Assist the Shipper with Documentation: Fresh produce and perishable goods often have more documentation needs than regular cargo. Sometimes shippers, especially those new to the trade, are not aware of the cross-border documentation. In such cases, it becomes the transporter’s duty to make sure the shipper completes all documentation requirements in the right format. This not only helps complete the shipment formalities but also helps the trucker while crossing the state borders.
- Service the Refeers Before Allotting: The transporter should make sure the reefer is properly serviced, cleaned, and checked before it is allotted to the shipper. He should also check if the temperature required for the fresh produce being transferred can be maintained in the reefer throughout the transit.
- Train Your Drivers to Handle Perishable Goods: For transporting perishable cargo safely, it is essential to have experienced and trained drivers on board. The driver should understand the handling instructions of the fresh produce and be able to manage temperature settings of the reefer container.
- Update the Shipper Timely: Share regular status updates with the shipper while the goods are in transit. In case there are any issues with the container or temperature monitor, inform the shipper immediately, and seek alternative solutions.
- Deliver On-Time: It’s a good practice for logistics and trucking service providers to deliver goods on time. In the case of perishable goods and fresh produce, on-time delivery is crucial as even a slight delay in transit can affect the quality of goods, spoil them or make them unfit for consumption. Hence, it is necessary to make sure that the entire team handling the cargo understands the importance of on-time delivery!
If you’re looking for a reliable partner to transport your fresh produce and perishable goods, get in touch with our team today! We not only take responsibility for delivering your goods on time but also ensure that you get access to an online platform powered with advanced technology to plan and monitor your shipments more effectively!