Produce Season Transportation & Spring Break Recreation: A Comparison

Ever plan a spring break vacation? If so, you probably know more about how produce harvests are about to affect the North American freight market than you thought. The similarities in logistics planning for both events are plentiful. Location, timing, and preparation can be the difference between ending up where you want to be, and paying an arm and a leg for something you could have avoided.

Location: If you are anything like me, you are looking to get to some place warm as winter is coming to an end. It just so happens that these same desirable vacation destinations are desirable shipping origins for asset-based carriers due to the warm weather. Southern California, Arizona, Texas and Florida get an influx of snowbirds the same time the farmers are completing their first harvest. Trucking companies and other transportation service providers are in the process of strategically repositioning their equipment to handle this shift in demand in these southern hot spots.

Timing: In an industry that does not favor the procrastinator, the need to plan well in advance is amplified during produce season. Bing.com offers 4 travel tips for planning spring vacations that is also a good blueprint for shipping during the same season.

  1. Be Flexible. The same way that changing the dates on a flight and hotel can save you some money, being flexible with your shipping/ receiving dates and modes of transportation can garner a savings as well. Not using intermodal right now? Great time to reconsider – learn why here.
  2. Use Available Tools. Orbitz, Travelocity and Kayak will scour the internet and analyze every airline and hotel to find you the best option at the best price. Best advice to shippers – do the same and utilize the networks of your 3PL. A solid 3PL will be able to provide expertise and options on the most reliable, cost-effective shipping method for your needs.
  3. Avoid Travel Surcharges. We all know what it feels like to have holiday surcharges, baggage fees, and undesirable seats. Avoid that headache with your shipping by communicating openly with your transportation providers. Confirm the rates you set will be honored at the same service levels, or make other arrangements to ensure committed capacity and secured pricing.
  4.  Get Inspired. Want to skip the spring break crowds? Choose a different destination than Cancun. Want to avoid produce rate spikes? Think outside the box – can you source from a different geographic location for cost savings? Can you keep more inventory in stock to avoid the need for prime time shipping? Consider these options and get creative.

Preparation: Luck is the residue of preparation. The same way that airfare or hotel rates increase and seats and rooms become unavailable the closer you get the date of purchase, freight rates will spike and capacity will shrink. This is not a time to haggle over minimal amounts in procurement if service and guaranteed capacity are top priority for your supply chain. Don’t count on Priceline being able to bail you out if you wait until the last minute.

 

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