Navigate Fresh Logistics during Produce Peak Season

Fresh logistics processes take center stage ad the produce peak season emerges across the U.S.

Efficient, cost-effective fresh logistics processes improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy, high-quality products, especially during the produce peak season.

Although we’ve been told to eat vegetables all our lives, only a small percentage of the U.S. consumes the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. The tide is turning, however. Younger generations are more concerned about the foods they eat and how they are sourced.

Price disparity between healthy options and low-cost “junk foods” persists. Yet, consumer awareness and targeted produce programs are beginning to break down barriers.

As the demand for fresh produce increases, so does the complexity of managing peak seasons in fresh logistics.
This article explores fresh logistics. We emphasize the need for efficiency, technology adoption, and waste reduction to enhance the availability of nutritious produce. Further, we will explore strategies for navigating produce peak seasons and demonstrate how MercuryGate’s optimization tools empower logistics operations to thrive.

Understanding Produce Seasonality

While we can get most fruits and vegetables year-round through a balance of imports and domestic sources, different environmental growth requirements drive varying produce peak seasons throughout the year.

Each region’s peak season, from the Pacific Northwest’s blueberries to the South’s peaches, commands a unique logistics strategy. Knowing the timing of different produce seasons and how to prepare helps you drive efficiencies in your fresh logistics operation. For example, transitioning from produce imports to focusing on domestic produce during warmer weather requires a significant shift.

California accounts for the lion’s share of our country’s fruit and vegetable production. That said, the rest of the country produces significant volumes throughout the year. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a comprehensive seasonal produce guide.

Here is a condensed version:

Spring: asparagus, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, garlic.

Summer: tomatoes, corn, watermelon, berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), peaches.

Fall: apples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cranberries, brussels sprouts.

Winter: citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits), root vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips), kale, pears, winter squash.

Seasonal produce surges create excitement for harvest festivals and family-favorite recipes. This season also challenges fresh logistics operations in various ways, from securing transportation capacity to managing warehouse space effectively. Planning and establishing robust and collaborative relationships with suppliers ensures a smooth transition into the busy produce logistics season.

Cultivating Efficiency in Fresh Logistics

Planning ahead helps secure capacity for your peak-season harvest. Mitch Mazzaro, director of retail and food service at Arrive Logistics, told FreightWaves that shippers should start securing capacity well before the peak of produce season. Focus early discussions about capacity and truck placements in regions such as Florida and south Georgia, which kick off the season on the East Coast, and in Northern California areas like Salinas on the West Coast.

Preparation helps mitigate disruptions and maximize efficiency. Relying on past produce peak seasons as a predictor of the future is a good baseline. From there, incorporating insights about the freight market, product yields, and other factors helps shape an effective fresh logistics strategy.

Many shippers leverage reports such as the USDA’s Specialty Crops National Truck Rate Report to gain insights into truck capacity. The Cass Freight Index offers a snapshot of freight volumes and expenditures.

Here are essential tips for managing fresh logistics:

  • Understand the intricacies of state-level and regional volume spikes. For example, Kari Jablonski, CEO at Trucker Tools, told Freight Caviar, “Outbound volume in Florida can surge by up to 30% during spring months.”
  • Prepare for truckload demand that migrates to hot spots of produce activity throughout the country.
  • Recognize the imbalance between inbound and outbound logistics.
  • Anticipate heightened demand for refrigerated transport as the produce season peaks. Secure your reefer network well in advance.
Doing your homework goes a long way toward preparing for a successful produce peak season. Likewise, leveraging technology to improve planning and execution helps you navigate the challenges of produce peak seasons.

Enhancing Fresh Logistics with Technology

Automation tools such as transportation management systems (TMS) streamline processes and improve efficiency by providing real-time tracking, intelligent routing and scheduling, and data analytics.

By harnessing MercuryGate’s TMS technology, you can optimize logistics planning, mitigate disruptions, and ensure smooth operations. Our platform supports fresh logistics by:

  • Providing real-time data and analytics for better geographic capacity planning.
  • Offering tools to manage the increased demand.
  • Providing greater visibility and control for produce with a short shelf life moving across the country.
  • Helping to balance the inbound versus outbound load imbalance with advanced route optimization capabilities.
Our solutions help produce shippers navigate the current challenges and set the stage for a more resilient fresh logistics supply chain.

Calculate your potential Saving While Using an enterprise TMS

Deliver Flawless Fresh Logistics

Navigating fresh logistics requires a strategic approach grounded in a thorough understanding of produce seasonality. Leveraging technology for fresh logistics proves to be a game changer and sets an optimistic tone for the future of the produce supply chain.

MercuryGate stands at the forefront of this journey by enabling businesses to transform their fresh logistics operations. As we embrace the blooming 2024 produce season, MercuryGate invites you to experience the full potential of our platform. Request a demo today and learn how we can help you optimize your fresh logistics for the coming seasons.

See how MercuryGate improves fresh logistics efficiency


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