The last two years have been challenging. We’ve adjusted - incorporating greater resiliency, flexibility, and certainty into our customers’ integrated cold chain plans. Collaboration has been paramount to this process. Although we’ve talked about being collaborative in the past, the need to develop cold chain partnerships that strategically align has never been more critical for the reliable movement of perishable cargo. We found that the customers with the highest successes in this pandemic communicate openly and seek two-way commitments.
These have been the common, key factors in ensuring they can serve their own customers reliably in the face of unprecedented market conditions. It similarly enabled us to ensure the market benefitted from efficient utilization of scarce reefer equipment and vessel capacity.
In addition, planning early allowed us to thoroughly understand our customers’ business and their strategic goals. This enabled us to develop cold chain solutions tailored to their needs and deliver confidence in their supply chain. Collaborative, long-term planning and strategic partnerships provided a predictable pathway to performance.
Customers can also benefit from seeking partners that have temperature-controlled shipping expertise and creative solutions.
Our Cold Chain Logistics Manager, Jeffrey De La Combe, is one such resource who regularly uses knowledge gained from prior seasons and handling other commodities to develop new ways to help customers effectively move their own perishable cargo.
Fresh Chilean grapes
This year, we initiated a new logistics solution to deliver greater agility to the flow of Chilean grapes into the U.S. For the 2021/2022 table grape season, the USDA projects exports to total 645,000 tons, representing a 22.8 percent increase over the previous season. The U.S. remains as the main market for Chilean table grapes accounting for 48.5 percent of the exports.
As a rule, these grapes must be fumigated when they reach the U.S. to eliminate invasive pests. In preparation for the 2021/2022 Chilean grape season, we mapped out a solution to streamline the flow of Chilean grapes destined for the U.S. Northeast market. Grape shipments entering the port of Philadelphia are processed and quickly drayed to a fumigation facility in New Jersey. This helps ensure grape imports move reliably are in the best condition possible to maximize their market value and shelf life. Many of our Chilean grape customers are using this solution today.
Cold chain challenges and disruptions come in many forms. In recent years, natural disasters in the form of hurricanes wiped out banana plantations in Central America. During this time, we were contacted by several banana importers needing new, alternate banana sourcing locations to meet their customers’ demand.
As a dedicated partner to these businesses, we answered their call by enabling new banana source points by reallocating assets to less affected locations in Central and South America. Our extensive network of local, knowledgeable sales and support staff leveraged our broad operational footprint to serve our impacted customers’ needs. When challenges of this sort occur, we’re extremely pleased to be able to provide resilient solutions to address market demand and ensure business continuity.
Developing strong, aligned business partnerships provides a strong foundation for developing agile, resilient cold chain solutions.
This collaborative approach is beneficial to all parties. During challenging periods it enables more consistent service delivery and when all is running smoothly, it allows the mental bandwidth to plan new ways to grow and serve customers better.