Historically, the produce industry gives truck transportation and trucking rates little thought, unless they are having a problem getting their product loaded, or rates are on the rise. Well, both are happening.
For example, several Northwest potato shippers have recently expressed concerns over what it cost to ship their potatoes. They say the situation has become enough of a concern in various parts of the country that more regional potato crops are being plants. Being closer to major markets means less transportation costs.
Valley Pride Sales LLC of Burlington, WA recently complained about short truck supplies and is concerned the situation will not be improving anytime soon. They also hear about a shortage of drivers. The company has seen freight rates to East Coast for russet potatoes costing $9 per 50-pound carton. This is seen as given potato shippers on the East Coast an advantage in the marketplace since they pay less for trucks.
New York Trucking Concerns
As with most companies in the produce industry, New York produce operations have seen escalating truck rates since 2017. However, shippers there are complaining less than shippers elsewhere. This is due to their location of being much closer to major Eastern metropolitan regions than Western and Midwest produce shipper.
For example, Torrey Farms Inc., of Elba, N.Y. observes the proximity to Eastern markets places their operation with many within five to six hours drive time. The company believes transportation will be a battle all summer long N.Y. While Torrey Farms typically has adequate trucks during June and July, by the start of July truck supplies already were tight this year.
New regulations that implemented electronic logging device mandates has made it harder for truckers reports Paul Marshall Produce Inc. of Batavia, N.Y. The trucking company notes two years ago the trucking lane from Elba to Chicago was pretty steady at $1,000 per load. In the summer of 2017, those rates escalated to $1,600.
At Turek Farms of King Ferry, N.Y., truck rates during the July Fourth holiday period were up 20 to 25 percent compared with a year ago. The company notes the new electronic logging device mandate rules mean adding another day to any trucking route more than 500 or 600 miles.