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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!