Produce Season "Must Knows" From Freight CEO

Trucker Tools CEO Kary Jablonski drops some key insights for freight companies as we move into the 2024 produce season.

Produce Season "Must Knows" From Freight CEO
Image Source: Trucker Tools

As March arrives, so does the unofficial commencement of the 2024 produce season, a period spanning from now until July, followed by the northern harvest. Trucker Tools CEO Kary Jablonski drops some gems about what to expect and how to prepare for the freight of fruits and veggies this year.

Regional Harvest Dynamics: Unlike other commodities, produce isn't harvested uniformly across the country. Fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico and the southern/western United States are typically harvested earlier in the year, while crops from the Midwest peak later in the spring and summer.

Regional Dynamics and Capacity Planning

During the produce season, certain regions experience significant spikes in outbound volume. For example, outbound volume in Florida can surge by up to 30% during the spring months. The harvest of crops such as citrus fruits and vegetables drives this surge.

Understanding Harvest Schedules: To effectively manage capacity during the produce season, companies must have a deep understanding of harvest schedules. Jablonski provided a convenient regional schedule that shows when specific crops are expected to peak in different areas.

Market Shifts and Reefer Demands

As produce is transported from farms to markets, there is a significant shift in truckload demand across the country. Regions known for producing specific types of produce become hot spots for transportation activity. For example, states like Florida, Texas, and Washington experience heightened demand due to their significant contributions to the nation's produce supply.

Micro-Capacity Shifts: Markets that are typically considered backhauls may suddenly become headhauls during specific weeks of the produce season, and vice versa. Advice? Remain agile and adaptable to capitalize on these opportunities.

Reefer Network Optimization: Given the perishable nature of produce, reefers play a critical role in preserving freshness during transit. Now is the time to ensure your reefer network is well-maintained and ready to meet the increased demand.

Complexity and Sustainability in Focus:

  • Logistics face complexities including labor shortages, fuel costs, and rising customer expectations.
  • Extreme weather events and geopolitical instability add to challenges.
  • Sustainability concerns rise, with consumers and regulators focusing on environmental impacts.
  • Advanced technologies like AI offer promise but pose adoption challenges.
  • These topics and more are being covered at the Food Shippers of America Annual Conference taking place in Orlando, Florida.

Adapting to Emerging Pressures

  • Growing popularity of plant-based and cultured meat introduces new handling requirements.
  • Food safety remains crucial amid increasing scrutiny and consumer demands.
  • Evolving network models and technologies require strategic integration into logistics operations.

Sources: Kary Jablonski/LinkedIn | Redwood Logistics | Food Shippers of America

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