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inbound logistics

How Can An Inbound Logistics Program Help During Produce Season?

For those in the trucking industry, produce season carries an awareness of the many opportunities and challenges that comes with transporting perishable commodities. Managing the rapid changes in available TL capacity when increased volumes begin to consolidate in California presents one of the most significant of those challenges. For produce sellers and retailers, the goal is to bring in the freshest produce at the best prices. In order to do this successfully, they will have to manage their logistics and supply chain accordingly. 

In our recent webinar, we addressed what challenges shippers face during produce season, the driving forces behind rising transportation costs and tighter capacity during produce season and how businesses can utilize an inbound logistics program to overcome the challenges of the produce season.

As the nature of logistics and supply chain management is complicated at the best of times, the produce season may serve as a further wrench in the works, especially as it falls during a time in which many carriers are being diverted for vaccine distribution. Below is a break down of a few of the points in further detail. 

Limited Equipment During Produce Season Complicates Supply Chain Needs 

The choice of which logistics approach to embrace becomes especially impactful as carriers feel the crunch in California. Meanwhile, stocking shelves with visually appealing, fresh produce is even more important in 2021 than in recent years. The pandemic has accelerated an existing consumer trend towards health-conscious, home-cooked meals, creating an increased demand for fresh produce across the country.   

The need for well below freezing storage temperatures necessitates the need for specialized equipment, specifically reefer units.

As COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured and subsequently delivered, the need for well below freezing storage temperatures necessitates the need for specialized equipment, specifically reefer units. Given the availability for these trailers and the public need for the vaccine to be distributed, produce shippers will have to pay a premium for reefers in addition to working around a delivery schedule that is tighter and decidedly more limited than years past.   

Driver Shortages and a Highly Regulated Supply Chain 

It is no secret that the United States has an incredibly finite amount of drivers, decidedly less than demand requires. Driver shortages and lengthy detentions have already plagued 2020 and are slow to show any significant improvements thus far in 2021. It’s no wonder so many agricultural carriers are concerned with the delicate nuances necessary to coordinate a successful produce season this year. The question is, what can shippers do to help mitigate the impact of the driver and equipment shortage so they can keep their shelves stocked in the coming months? 

In addition to the driver shortage, there are also federal regulations that need to be considered when transporting produce. The FDA has a fairly stringent set of standards in place regarding the transportation of perishable and consumable goods such as produce. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has a myriad of sanitation, storage and transportation requirements that must be adhered to, or else carriers could be subjected to a series of fines and penalties.  

Perhaps a blessing and a curse for produce shippers.

In addition to the FSMA requirements, there are also the HoS mandates that dictate just how long a driver can work at any given time. Perhaps a blessing and a curse for produce shippers, there are some addendums and exceptions to the Hours of Service mandate when it comes to agricultural supply chains that allow shippers to be more efficient when moving produce. However, knowing what these exceptions are and how to best utilize them can be a challenge for even experienced shippers, given that the regulations continue to change.

Watch The Recorded Webinar Below

The Silver-Lining of Superstorm Sandy

With initial estimates of economic losses due to Sandy reaching into the $30-$50 billion range, it’s strange to think that there could actually be a silver-lining to such a detrimental cloud. And in fact, the trucking industry alone suffered around a whopping $140 million per day loss. This number is based on 20% of the industry not moving freight because of Sandy’s aftermath. However, with these dismal numbers at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s wise to note that some trucking companies do actually benefit from natural disasters.

The clean-up and rebuilding phase following the super storm is what gives the transportation industry its light at the end of the tunnel. Fleets are expected to see an increase in activity in the coming months with demand on the rise. Construction companies and the flatbed carriers that haul their materials will experience quite the surge.

Flatbed carriers aren’t the only ones to have a boost in freight, however. Dry van carriers will also see a boom in business with retailers needing to replenish depleted goods on store shelves. Though many will experience a loss initially, the storm’s resulting damage will create new demand later. The immediate need for restocking, for example, is one that only the time-sensitive characteristic of trucking can provide. Not only is it excess work because everything is rushed, it’s also out of normal route, and people are willing to pay more. All of this in turn, leads to a faster recovery for the industry. FTR (Freight Transportation Research Association) Senior Consultant Noel Perry predicts that the losses caused by the storm, will ultimately be recovered due to resupply and rebuilding truck freight needs. Perry predicts the storm will generate $15 billion in additional revenue for trucking over the next three or four quarters.

Sandy’s disruption to replenishing food, gas and other goods serves as a glaring reminder that freight transportation is the backbone that supports our everyday life.  Whether a storm for you causes a loss or a sudden boom in business, you still need to have a plan for whatever comes next. Though you cannot predict, you can prepare. Check out the checklist we developed to help prepare your supply chain for natural disasters!

Have your own tips or precautions that you take in preparation for the unpredictable? Fill us in here so we can all benefit!

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VOTE BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL

Vote BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL ProviderEach year Inbound Logistics releases a Readers’ Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence survey for shippers and businesses to express their appreciation for their best third party logistics provider. It is our mission to serve you with world class technology and outstanding customer service daily while offering simplicity and reduced freight costs.

Here are Top 3 Reasons to Vote BlueGrace as Top 3PL:

  1. OMG Service: Our team of dedicated logistics support experts is always eager to assist throughout the shipping process. Contact them via email, chat directly from our website, phone 1-800-MY-SHIPPING, or social networks! To see what customers are saying about shipping with BlueGrace, read Customer Reviews on Facebook.
  2. Simplicity with Technology: BlueGrace Logistics offer advanced logistics technology and shipping tools to simplify your freight shipping. This allows you to focus on your core competencies and leave the shipping to us!
  3. Logistics Champs: We’re proud sponsors of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters – it’s just one way we build relationships between our employees, customers, and logistics partners by participating in this common sports interest. Inc Magazine interviewed BlueGrace Logistics President and CEO, Bobby Harris, in their June edition to get the scoop on the MMA involvement.

Please take a moment to cast your vote for BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL. Thanks in advance for your support!

If you are interested in learning more about the “BGExperience,” contact our friendly team today to get truckin’ on the road to streamlined shipping with BlueGrace Logistics!

– Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Follow: @SamHill_BG