Tag Archives: cpg shipping

Produce Season: How Does Shipping Fresh Produce Work?

Summer is peaking: sun, vacations, and fresh fruits and veggies. Every year, when the spring season appears at the horizon, we start grasping greenery, berries, and fruit. But few people think about the long journey your cauliflower goes from the farm to your table. The harvest season begins in winter, while spring and summer is the start of shipping fresh produce.

What is the produce season?

Produce season is the time of the year when there is a high volume of fresh produce shipped throughout the country to grocery stores, restaurants, and other vendors. Usually, the produce shipping season starts in late February or early March and continues throughout the summer. Fresh products are delivered from southern states to northern states. Essentially, produce season for shippers and carriers means tighter capacity and increase in freight rates.

How to ship fresh produce?

Seasonal fruits, veggies, and greenery usually have a very short shelf life and are easily perishable. This means shippers struggle to deliver products fresh and on-time. Produce is moved in temperature-controlled, or refrigerated trailers.

The main concern while shipping fresh produce is maintaining its attractive appearance. Essentially, when you go to the grocery store, products that look fresh and just-from-the-farm catch your eye the most. For logistics and trucking companies, it is a great challenge to deliver produce in sellable condition, unspoiled, and on-time. Therefore, any inconsistency and disruption in the refrigerated supply chain can result in major time and money losses. Additionally, there is a high pressure of following safety guidelines due to high risks of food spoilage.

Essentially, trailer cleanliness matters a lot when transporting food. Carriers and drivers must maintain appropriate truck conditions to avoid products contamination and other unwanted consequences. Overall, shipping fresh produce turns out to be a complex process that requires accuracy, compliance with the safety guidelines, and proper organization.

According to FMSA (Food Modernization Safety Act), there are certain requirements for carriers and trucking companies who move frozen food:

  • Trailers must be clean
  • Maintaining the safe temperature in transit
  • Proper trained drivers and carriers
  • Paperwork of compliance

How does produce season affect freight rates?

Produce season is an extremely busy time in the freight industry. In the early spring, rates begin to rise and capacity is tightening up.  The DAT North American Freight Index states that spot market freight volume usually grows by nearly 30 percent at the beginning of the spring season and reaches the top in April.

That’s why securing the capacity and planning lanes in advance is crucial for successfully surviving the produce season. the more thoroughly you plan your shipments, the more attractive your loads become to a carrier. Setting time-specific contracts will help you ship produce safely and on-time.

Also, make sure to inspect the market before starting any arrangements. Don’t buy the first-offered rate, and do research to define the average prices. Studying harvesting schedules and seasonal demand on certain products will also help to forecast rates and secure capacity.

Shipping freight produce with PLS Logistics

We have experience and the capacity to arrange temperature-controlled shipments of any complexity. Deliver produce all over North America and be sure about the quality, safety, and on-time shipping.

Learn more about our Refrigerated shipping and CPG shipping services!

The 5 Biggest Trends in Consumer Packaged Goods Shipping

It has been another tough year for consumer packaged goods (CPG) shippers. In 2015, CPG shippers were hurt by the same trends that affected the industry last year, despite increased efforts to cut logistics costs and improve service.  Data collected from 2014 sheds light on what affected CPG shippers in 2015. Here are 5 trends that continue to affect consumer packaged goods shippers:

CPG transportation is the most important aspect of logistics

In a recent study, 83% of supply chain leaders said transportation is their greatest concern. This is a drastic change from an identical study done two years ago, where transportation was never mentioned as a top priority. The main obstacles in transportation are rising line haul rates and the difficulty of securing capacity. These obstacles are driven, among many factors, by the increasing driver shortage and infrastructure-related problems. The bad news for consumer packaged goods shippers is that these are systemic problems with no resolutions in sight and they will continue to drive up linehaul rates and worsen the driver shortage.

CPG transportation networks require a redesign

Network redesign is the second highest concern of supply chain leaders in 2015, with 72% saying it was one of their top priorities. With the rising costs of transportation, the need for more carrier-friendly routes, and the emergence of new and fast-growing channels, CPG shippers realize that networks cannot be static in today’s supply chain environment.

Consumer Packaged Goods

To achieve strategic objectives, networks must be frequently analyzed and adjusted to provide consistent service levels and keep up with fluctuating demand. A network redesign can be difficult, requiring long-term thinking about company goals and the market outlook, but it is a necessary step to take for CPG shippers.

CPG inventory size is growing despite lean efforts

Approximately 70% of ambient CPG shippers experienced an increase in inventory in 2015, despite improvements in demand and transportation forecasting. There are a few straightforward reasons for inventory increases: inventory is backed up due to road congestion and last-mile delivery obstacles, shippers have accumulated safety stock while redesigning transportation networks, and limited capacity has left some inventory unable to be moved. Only 60% of temperature-controlled CPG shippers experienced inventory increases because temperature-controlled shippers often have long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with carriers, which highlights the need for better partnerships.

CPG freight costs continue to rise

Median freight costs have risen by 14% for temperature-controlled shipping. CPG shippers have historically enjoyed competitive pricing, but tightening capacity is increasing rates. CPG shippers usually ship transactional freight for convenience, but now, capacity is scarce and costs are high, CPG shippers are trying to move to long-term relationships with 3PLs and carriers to lock in reasonable freight rates. Looking ahead, 83% of supply chain leaders in the CPG industry expect transportation costs to continue to increase. Increasing rates mean now is the time for CPG shippers to find long-term solutions.

CPG service levels are declining

CPG shipping service levels have slowly declined over the past few years. The main reasons for declining service are transportation related: the driver shortage and tight capacity, congestion along routes and at delivery points that create significant shipping delays. Amazingly, 96% of CPG shippers did not meet their requested arrival date (RAD) goals for the year, with only about 85% of shipments arriving on time industry-wide. Consistency in freight transportation is difficult for CPG shippers fighting for transactional freight while operating insufficient transportation networks. These statistics highlight the serious shortage of capacity and infrastructure problems that the industry faces.

Transportation is the biggest obstacle for CPG shippers and moving goods will only get more expensive and more complex. Industry leaders choose to outsource to a 3PL to save time and money while gaining expertise from a long-term solutions partner. 3PLs provide custom, technology-enabled transportation solutions that CPG shippers need to navigate today’s logistics environment.

Want to learn about CPG shipping solutions? Read more here.