How Do You Like Them Apples?

Mary Monday Wine as Fruit ServingGranny Smith apples. They’re my favorites. Pair them with some peanut butter and you’ve got one of the best snacks ever. I love fresh fruit and vegetables, but this time of year, the sight of all of those towers of apples, oranges, strawberries and blueberries greeting me at the grocery store is enough to send me home with some bottled “fruit” for dinner.

Why would anyone get stressed out at the sight of shiny, red apples? Well, if you work in transportation you know that produce season makes our jobs a lot more difficult. As more and more crops are shipped to grocers, there is less and less equipment available in the marketplace. Produce shippers pay premium freight rates for available trucks because their commodity is perishable; it can’t sit and wait. The drivers, on the other hand, can and will wait days just to pick up a high-paying produce load. An abundance of fresh produce freight paying premium rates pulls many carriers to certain areas of the country (who wouldn’t want those great paychecks?), creating scarce capacity and driving up freight prices for everyone else.

Mary Monday Produce Season

If Only Capacity Could Be This Perfect During Produce Season…

This is where relationships are key. When brokers have strong, steady year-round relationships with carriers, they can retain loyal carriers in their lanes and protect against huge spikes in freight rates. Knowing who has equipment where and who can (or cannot) haul produce loads is key. Most importantly, brokers must have strong knowledge of the industry and understand how produce season can actually help REDUCE fright rates in certain lanes. For example, if a carrier in Kentucky knows that there is a premium produce load they can pick up in Florida, they might be willing to move their truck from Kentucky to Florida at a discounted rate just to get there.

But sometimes, even knowledge and strong relationships is not enough. It takes finesse, experience and wisdom to manage all of the variables that affect rates and capacity this time of year. My advice? Don’t just work with a knowledgeable broker during produce season, work with a wise one. What’s the difference? Well, to put in produce terms: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting one in a fruit salad.”

Happy Monday,

Photo Sources: Lolzhumor