By Matt Baldwin, ALC, Winchester
Throughout the course of the pandemic, there have been shortages in many of the food products that we consume daily. One of the main food groups that have been in higher demand in recent times has been meat and poultry.
With recently renewed coronavirus restrictions at many processing plants, concerns have been raised that another meat and poultry shortage may be on the rise. In our Winchester, VA office, we work with some of the largest food processing companies in the United States. With understaffed processing plants due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the food supply chain for many of these companies has been lacking.
With all of the issues currently facing supply chains in our country, it is our job to make sure that we are working as efficiently as we can with our carriers to get meat and poultry on the shelves for our customers. Here’s how we do it.
One of the most important aspects of hauling perishables is working with a carrier that you can trust, with good equipment, experience, and an understanding of how things may go.
With meat shortages being a major concern for grocers across the country we need to make sure that the product gets to the final destination in perfect condition. One of the first things that we look for when potentially working with a carrier is if they have any history hauling high-value products. The more experience they have, the less likely they are to experience any potential problems. Asking them a few important questions to make sure they are the right carrier for the job is also essential.
We want to know the year of the reefer unit (needs to be 10 years or newer), the condition of the air chute, if they have the necessary load locks and straps to keep the product secure, and if the reefer unit is downloadable in case there are any temperature discrepancies at delivery.
These questions help us and the carrier make sure that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible from start to finish. Preparation and communication are both keys when transporting perishables.
Having strong relationships with carriers is imperative just like with any other product, but when hauling perishables, the carrier must be also aware of the challenges that processing companies face.
These companies are experiencing major delays with loading times, leading to carriers being frustrated, which can further complicate the supply chain. We have experienced that when you make sure the carriers you work with are fully aware of what to expect from start to finish when hauling the load, things generally tend to go more smoothly. The last thing that we want is to have a carrier hand a load back while at the pick-up location because they did not know what to expect. When the carrier knows what they may be up against, they generally don’t get upset when delays are excessive, because they know that they can trust our word and that we will do the best we can for them at the end of the day.
With coronavirus restrictions at processing plants ramping up, these issues don’t seem like they will be going away soon. It is important that we work with our carriers to do the best we can for our customers in these difficult times. We need to be understanding of the current circumstances and do what we need to do to get the job done. Our mission is to serve our customers to the best of our abilities, and the only way to do that is to work with our carriers as a team.
Matt Baldwin is a transportation broker with ALC Winchester, Va. Baldwin will be transferring to ALC Charlotte, NC to work on-site at McCall Farms. Matt has five years of experience in logistics and graduated with a marketing degree from Rutgers University.