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The Fresh Focus is taking an in-depth look into Find, Move, Build. This month we are emphasizing move- the logistics component of the Fresh Avenue model, and the value that’s found with a veteran produce logistics and logistics team.

A key question when forming a go-to-market strategy is, should I generalize or specialize? In one case, generalization offers a wide selection of product and services which means a larger market that results in a larger quantity of buying customers—it’s a more for more approach.  The downside is that there are also more competitors, so you need to bring more fight. On the other hand, you can take the specialist approach, where the focus is narrowed to a select offering for select markets. It resides in a niche world where you are the expert. The drawback is that finding your offering and market takes time and refinement with a nice pay off if you put in the time and work.

We see this in the world of logistics; companies shipping any and everything, fiercely competing for business. However, when considering shipping for produce, should you be taking the generalist or specialist approach?  Let’s take a look!

Produce by Nature is Specific

When thinking about produce, it is specific in nature. Produce requires a specific temperature range to grow, needs to be cooled within hours of harvest, and it has an incredibly short shelf life and specific temperature range to prevent spoilage. That translates to specifics on the logistics side. Certain types of produce requiring a truck’s refrigeration to be at a certain temperature range or product coming in from harvest needs a couple hours to be cooled to temp. Then there is the loading and unloading of trucks with the need to have product on the road after its arrival in cold storage within 48 hours.

There’s Hard Shipping and then there’s Produce Shipping

Our logistics manager has seen it all with shipping. Hard items to ship like wind turbine blades qualify as an oversized load with careful pre-planning involved to get it from point A and point B– having escorts, not going through certain areas at certain times, planning a route that has least interference with traffic, etc. However, produce logistics is more than hard, or as Chris described, there is the expectation that you can juggle swords on fire while on the phone dispatching a truck.

Produce is Challenging

Part of this stems from the challenges imposed by the specific nature of produce. Trucks want to schedule their pick-ups, but bottlenecks happen when trucks arrive early and the harvest arrives later. Other industries have ways to mitigate long waits or bottlenecks, but in produce, there are very few certainties with which to plan and schedule. Another issue that pops up is loading a few pallets on a truck at one cooler and then filling the remainder at another. The weight of these loads is a critical consideration before a truck travels across country. At times the load has to be re-arranged and that creates another bottleneck.

In the end, once a truck is loaded, it then needs to cross the country quickly, keeping in mind the rules and regulations in place for drivers and driver teams to be well rested and taking adequate breaks. However, with produce, the short shelf life becomes a ticking time bomb after the produce is cut in the field.  If there is a delay at one point in the supply chain, it carries through to the subsequent links.

Fresh Avenue is a Produce Shipper

We don’t tell you all this to discourage, but rather to reveal the need for a veteran specialist in your corner when it comes to produce shipping. Teams need to be on their toes, alert, paying attention to detail and calling people out if a detail slips—because there’s hard shipping and then there’s produce shipping.  Also, our produce logistics teams need a thick skin and to be quick on their toes; it is a thankless job that should be celebrated more.

This is exactly why specializing in produce shipping is a strategy that Fresh Avenue knows will bring the most value to their customers. In fact, it is right in the middle of our three-prong approach to produce… finding the right grower / producers, having a dedicated logistics team delivering your produce that are veterans in produce logistics, and then building a program that is continually supported and revised.  However, we understand that logistics is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle for anyone buying and selling produce, and we prioritize team and bandwidth to make sure this area fully supports you.