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Fresh Products on the Move: A Look at Temperature Controlled Shipping Capacity in the U.S. Southeast
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Fresh Products on the Move: A Look at Temperature Controlled Shipping Capacity in the U.S. Southeast

There are several situations throughout the year that can put extra pressure on fresh supply chains. From peak fresh produce season to holiday surges, the demands for temperature controlled shipping can add an extra degree of complexity, urgency, and responsibility to the supply chain.

3 reasons why the Southeast experiences a springtime capacity crunch

One of the tight capacity situations the fresh produce industry historically sees each spring occurs in the Southeast. Here’s a rundown of three factors that contribute to the capacity crunch in that region.

1. The Florida peninsula.

As the peninsula-shaped (i.e., water-surrounded), southernmost of the 48 contiguous states, Florida has a unique geographic advantage that makes the state a hub for imports. But while coastal cities serve as entry points for produce, flowers, and other commodities from around the world, the state’s narrow land radius limits transportation lanes as those fresh items are transported to locations around the country. This is an important factor to keep in mind throughout the year—not only when capacity is tight.

2. Seasonal crops.

Corn and melons are harvested in the Southeast region beginning in the spring, starting in Southern Florida and progressing north as the season advances. As these abundant crops are brought to market, demand is high for temperature controlled capacity. These fresh products have a limited shelf life, and speed to market is critical.

3. Floral surges.

This year, Easter and Mother’s Day fall within Q2; both holidays drive demand for bouquets. And, because florals need to maintain specific temperatures to preserve freshness, demand for temperature controlled capacity in Florida is high in the weeks leading up to each holiday. The Miami airport is the central hub for all floral imports into the United States, with flowers arriving from Colombia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. From there, flowers are transported by refrigerated trucks to retailers across the country.

Proactive planning can help mitigate capacity challenges

Being aware of how historical trends can limit or change capacity is one way to stay ahead of capacity challenges. After all, seasonal and regional factors will likely continue to overlap and impact capacity. Proactive planning is key to helping eliminate some of the uncertainties of a tight market, too. Thinking strategically with an innovative lens can help create the advantages needed to build strong carrier relationships and more easily secure the right kind of capacity, in the right lanes, at the right time.

Final thoughts

Maintaining an ongoing planning cycle can be an effective way to stay on top of expectations and support an agile supply chain—one that can swiftly adjust to quickly-changing market conditions, whether they’re anticipated or not. A third party logistics provider (3PL) can help identify and solve capacity shortages and support continuous improvement to create consistency in both supply and execution.

Mark Petersen

Mark Petersen - Vice President of Global Transportation, Robinson Fresh

As Vice President of Transportation for Robinson Fresh, Mark Petersen oversees all surface transportation regions for Robinson Fresh. In this role, Mark manages the design, development and performance of global transportation initiatives, as well as enterprise solution design in collaboration with North American Surface Transportation. During his tenure with C.H. Robinson, Mark has demonstrated the ability to effectively develop and grow new business relationships, and design unique solutions which allow him to focus and lead resources towards achieving long-term growth initiatives.
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