By Brendan McCallum, ALC Rochester
With every produce shipping season comes a new set of challenges, and the 2021 season may be the most challenging we have ever seen. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy has been massive and unprecedented, with every industry being affected in one way or another. While many industries suffered during this time, the agriculture industry saw volumes increase. Add on the usual surge in volume during the produce season, and you see an extremely tight capacity situation.
Shifting focus to the Northeast, which has its heaviest peak of volume in August/September, relying mainly on the production of apples, corn, and blueberries. In 2020 we had seen increases in produce sales within these major Northeast crops, only to see these numbers increase further coming into 2021:
- Total corn production increase estimated at 6.5% between 2019 and 2020, with that trend continuing into 2021, which is in part due to corn exports increasing because of high demand from China and other importers.
- In New York, apple production is expected to increase in 2021 due largely to improving export markets and continued strong domestic demand.
- Coming off a 2020 drought season, Maine has shown improvement in blueberry production in 2021 and will see continued improvements, due to further education/research on climate adaptions.
These are just some examples that will make up for a challenging peak in the Northeast produce season. Around this time, carriers will devote trucks to moving high crop volumes, diminishing available capacity throughout the country. This causes spikes in truck rates, which immediately impacts the ability to book shipments into or out of the affected and nearby states. It is important to apply advanced preparations and have a strategy in place to adapt to various seasonal demand changes. This is the season in which relationships built throughout the year with carriers becomes so important. Having people you can rely on to ship these products during a trying time will help mitigate disruptions and frustrations, ensuring continued success for everyone involved.
Brendan McCallum is a transportation broker in his first year at the ALC Rochester, office. He has three years of previous experience working in Intermodal Logistics. Brendan attended The College at Brockport where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management.