The produce season is part of the yearly seasonal demand cycle, in which we experience a short-term, predictable surge in shipping volumes throughout different areas of the country.
While we know where the produce season starts, and can prepare for a lot of the increased volume from those places, some surges can crop up in certain places before a shipper can get their drivers and refrigerated trailers to them in an optimal time frame.
As producers attempt to source the transportation and warehousing services they need, shippers are looking to maximize the value of every truckload throughout the season. This can be a pretty profitable arrangement for every party involved, if they are fully prepared for the changes that are common in this season.
Classifying the Produce Season
As the temperatures begin to rise every spring, it’s time to start harvesting the fruits and vegetables and get them out on the road.
Of course, this doesn’t happen all at once. Produce season starts in the southern states and moves northward throughout the summer months.
So, while it’s hard to pin down an exact date, generally speaking, produce seasons starts in southern Florida and Texas in or around March, when the new crops start coming out of the ground.
On top of that, though, produce from Mexico and other Latin American countries begins coming in across the border, causing more shipping spikes in some regions.
These spots of high demand will shift throughout the year, and by the time we reach Q2, most of the produce is coming from northern Florida and Texas, but now California, Georgia, and the Carolinas are starting the chip in.
How the Produce Season Impacts Transportation and Warehousing Services
The seasonal shipping spikes that come with produce season can cause some difficulties throughout the country, as some rates may go up and down along with demand.
Shippers must be able to prioritize the must-move freight and ensure that it arrives at its destination on time. They will need to be flexible enough to handle sudden spikes in demand or sudden shifts in pickup and drop-off locations throughout the season.
Shippers will also start looking for ways to maximize their routes and optimize their turnaround times by working with producers who are delivering to nearby outlets.
This is, of course, just a few of the considerations.
There are a couple other big ones that require a little more in-depth discussion.
Refrigerated Shipping is Hugely Important
During the produce season, the ability to ship perishable goods while maintaining their integrity is critical to the supply chain. In other words, refrigerated shipping is the top priority for producers who need to move goods any significant distance.
Uncontrolled shipping temperatures for produce could lead to huge losses for the producer and the shipper. There are also a number of public health issues that need to be considered, and any breaches could lead to a number of penalties in the future – and, of course, a lot of damage to the company’s reputation.
That being said, refrigerated shipping offers a lot of great benefits. There are so many more products available these days, and these modern transportation solutions have made it possible to move them all across the country.
Now, it’s possible for producers to meet the growing demand for a huge variety of perishable goods, so different types of produce are reaching more areas than ever before.
Driver’s Must Be Strategically Scheduled
Professional drivers are a limited resource, and they’re still in very short supply.
This is an issue that every transportation company is dealing with these days, and it requires a lot of pre-planning to keep the trucks out on the road and keep your products moving.
This problem is certainly exacerbated in the produce season, when we have to be even more flexible and react more quickly in order to make sure every spike in demand has a truck and an experienced driver ready to respond.
How Did 2020 Impact Produce Shipping?
The COVID pandemic has had an impact on every industry, and that includes growers and transporters right along with everyone else.
Coming into the produce season this year, though, means that the industry has a better understanding of the “new normal” and can ramp operations back up to something that resembles pre-Corona times.
Everything from how our drivers interact with shippers and receivers to how we provide warehouse services has changed, but it’s all part of dealing with an ever-evolving industry.
Are You Ready for Produce Season?
The yearly spike in demand for fresh produce is a predictable occurrence, but it always demands a high level of flexibility and determination to provide safe and effective transportation.
There is always a chance to encounter something that could disrupt the normal movement of your products, so be sure to begin your planning well in advance of the season. Start forecasting your needs now, and contact us to explore your options.