Understanding the produce shipping season and why it impacts capacity is vital for shippers who deal with agricultural goods and products. Within the farming and agricultural industry, this is truer than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the industry upside down in many ways, and while disruptions continue, the projection for widespread economic recovery is still strong for the current year. As further support, a report from TransportTopics pointed to the fact that “the global driver shortage plaguing the industry is worsening, and carriers must optimize the use of their assets and labor by matching the most favorable shipment profiles with available resources. With no significant decrease in demand or increase in driver capacity projected anytime soon, it remains a carrier’s market.” The following tips can help shippers better manage produce shipments and plan accordingly for produce-season capacity crunches.
1. Know When Shipments Will Arrive
Produce shipping season is mainly about scheduling and predictive planning. Knowing when certain crops are in season, when they are harvested, and when they typically get shipped can help improve logistical planning and carrier load matching. Knowing when shipments are expected allows shippers to plan out in advance to secure capacity and avoid being at the mercy of high-bidding carriers in the transportation industry.
2. Prepare the Receiving Dock in Advance
With proper planning and advanced insight, shippers can better prepare for the peak produce shipping season and avoid potential delays before they happen. Getting receiving docks ready ahead of time, ensuring equipment is ready to go, and providing adequate staffing will ensure a smooth and streamlined loading and unloading process. An ounce of preparation can save a great deal of time, money, and energy down the road.
3. Have the Right Equipment and Proper Staff Levels for Unloading and Stocking
Even the best-laid plans and schedules will fail if there are not enough hands available and if the equipment available is not up to par. Scheduling additional workers and upping equipment maintenance routines ahead of the peak shipping rush can help keep things moving along smoothly. It will also save time, resources, and money in the long run by avoiding delays, disruptions, damaged goods, and excessive fees on freight shipping.
4. Know Which Markets Are Growing Tighter Due to Seasonal Harvests
Within the agriculture industry, there are niche produce shipping seasons that rise and fall at different times. Certain regions have unique products, and shippers must juggle multiple markets as they rise and fall. Texas has different crops and harvest seasons compared to Florida, for example. Some crops ship in the summer, others in fall, and a single state or region can have multiple yearly crops.
5. Properly Package Goods and Select the Right Type of Transport
Another way shippers can maximize capacity and secure the greatest profits in any produce season is to ensure that goods are properly packaged and shipped correctly. Certain areas and certain produce products require specialized shipping considerations. Reefer trucks are commonly used for very hot areas, dry van transport is common for cooler regions, and rush shipping is often needed for delicate produce that won’t keep for long.
6. Expand Carrier Relationships to Find Capacity During Produce Season
Having a deep pool of pre-vetted and qualified shippers to pull from will make it easier to find capacity and ensure peak produce shipping season loads are handled accordingly. Attaining shipper-of-choice status also helps shippers find quality carriers by showing they are experienced professionals interested in long-term partnerships. Expanding carrier relationships will help shippers better manage supply chain trends every year.
7. Forecast Demands to Stay Ahead of the Market
Dealing with perishable freight comes with a unique set of challenges, and fresh produce is no exception. Commodities requiring delivery within a specific timeframe create less flexibility and more demand. The available capacity shrinks further, and freight rates soar as carriers who can handle these specialized loads are in greater demand. Predictive planning helps shippers stay ahead of changing trends and capacity crunches.
Stay Ready for Produce Shipping Season With Wicker Park Logistics
Freight shipping and logistics remain critical components of the modern supply chain network. Understanding the often complicated and highly involved process of shipping fresh products and how the various produce shipping seasons impact overall carrier capacity is vital for shippers. Continued growth and recovery within the agricultural markets will rely heavily on proper planning throughout all of the various seasons for produce shipping. Contact Wicker Park Logistics to learn more and prepare for the produce season’s unique shipping needs.