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Transportation/Logistics Concerns Still Brewing

One area that the Pundit intends to address a great deal in the months ahead is transportation and logistics.

It has always been true that in perishables, the product only has value if you can get it where the customer needs it, when the customer wants it.

My family was once considered the “coconut kings” — why did we want that title? It was a logistics issue.

We used to import a lot of items into the New York metro area. We would have Italian chestnuts and radicchio, Greek figs, French Granny Smith apples, Belgian endive and many other relatively low-volume items.

Since we had customers for all these items all across the country, the challenge was transportation. So whoever could get it to the retailers and wholesalers across the country when they needed it would get the order.

It wasn’t a matter of price; it was a matter of service.

So we would put together complicated truck loads of LTL shipments and snake them across the country.

Where did the coconuts come in? We sold them at break-even because they were big and helped us fill up the trucks. It was our secret weapon so we could always keep the trucks humming.

Of course, the Pundit isn’t the only one concerned about trucking. Bryan Silbermann, President of the Produce Marketing Association, and I engaged in an extensive discussion about the issue here.

The crux of the articles? Well Bryan put it best:

There is a perfect storm brewing now in the transportation sector of the produce and floral industries.

But things are happening. Most notably, the Dispute Resolution Corp. announced that it was providing the same protections for produce carriers as it did for the actual buyers and sellers of produce. Bill Martin, a noted expert on transportation and a Contributing Editor to PRODUCE BUSINESS, analyzed the significance right here.

Of course, there is a lot more to transportation and logistics than trucking. Have you seen the Atlanta Perishables Complex managed by Perishables Group International JV LLC? So often, air transport seems to make sense for perishables but the reality is that the product sits on a tarmac somewhere, breaking the cold chain, and the product is damaged.

This is the kind of facility you need if air transport is ever going to meet its potential for perishable transportation.

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