It was in early June that truck broker Kenny Lund saw the spot market on produce freight rates hit $10,000 for loads between California and the East Coast. While part of the reason was seasonal volume increases for fresh fruits and vegetables, and truck availability, he saw other factors contributing to the rise in rates.
Lund was speaking at the 2014 convention and exhibition of the United Fresh Produce Association in Chicago June 11th.
The vice president, support operations, for the Allen Lund Co. Inc. of LaCanada, CA cited the recently completed 72-hour U.S. Department of Transportation check points held across the country. This was delaying truck schedules.
Another factor was the CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations, which Lund said were resulting in more truckers refusing to come to California. It takes a minimum investment by truckers of $8,000 to comply with CARB regulations.
“It is impossible to be compliant and move significant amounts of refrigerated product into and out California,” Lund stated
He noted less than 30 percent of refrigerated carriers are compliant with CARB and truckers simply do not have the money to become compliant.
In an effort to assist produce haulers, he noted Allen Lund Co. provides $1.5 million a week in advances to drivers.
Lund, who has been with company founded by his father and namesake 25 years, said there were over 50,000 carriers in the United States, but the average trucking company has less than six trucks.
“90 percent of the trucking companies have six or less trucks,” he noted. At the same time the percentage is very low of trucks having team drivers.
Getting more specific, Lund said refrigerated carriers are dominated by owner operators and companies with less than five trucks.
As for CARB, Lund said he has “fought tooth and nail with them” (California bureaucrates). Since the CARB rules were implemented in 2004 fines have been extended to brokers, shippers, receivers and specifically to drivers.
“It (CARB rules) has driven a lot of drivers away from California,” Lund stated.
He also was critical of hours-of-service regulations, and particularly the 34-hour restart. While the restart requirement may be okay for local trucking, it is not good for long haul drivers.
During a question and answer session, Lund said the reason more large refrigerated carriers do not haul produce is because “it comes down the driver having a stake in that load. I see a lot of large carriers get in and out of hauling produce. It comes down to not having enough good drivers,” Lund concluded.