Archive For The “Trucking Reports” Category

What is Behind These Soaring Freight Rates on Fresh Produce Hauls

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TAAAAhere’s a lot of talk about soaring truck rates, including produce, and how long these levels will last, considering January is typically one of the poorest months for decent rates. Nobody really knows, so it is going to be very interesting once spring produce volume starts kicking in with March.

In January, some truck rates exceeded $10,000 from the Imperial Valley of California to New York City.  This compares to a $6,000 to $6,200 rate in January 2017. Two years ago, the rates were $5,800 to $6,000 to New York.

Florida has a similar situation are produce rates from central and south Florida to Baltimore were up 30 percent a week ago compared with the previous week, grossing $2,700 to$2,900.  The same time a year ago those rates were $1,900 to $2,200, and $2,100 to $2,200 two years ago.

While Florida volume is seasonally low compared to what it will be in April and May, product is moving fast partly because the Sunshine State has a significant freight advantage over Mexican vegetable shipments to many eastern seaboard markets.

In the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota a bumper red potato crop is 46 percent larger than a year ago.  Yet some observers believe potato shipments could be up to 20 percent more if the trucks were available.

Potato rates from Grand Forks, MN are $3 per hundred weight (cwt) higher than last year to South Florida, putting the gross freight rate at $6000. Rates to Boston from the valley are up $2 per cwt. and $.250 to Chicago.

Significant credit has to be given President Trump cutting regulations, as well as the recent tax bill which is helping spur the economy.  Business is booming for many. This has increased demands for transportation services, plus there is a scarcity of qualified drivers, leaving many shippers scrambling to ship sold product.  There also are the adverse consequences of the electronic logging device mandate, making it difficult if not impossible to fudge on hours of service.

Many see a need for changes in hours of service.  For example, time spent waiting at loading docks counts against operating hours.  Produce is a supply and demand business and demand simply is outstripping the supply of available drivers.

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Shipping Updates: Imported Mexican Produce Crossings in Arizona, Texas

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AAADozens of different types of produce items, led by vegetables, represent crossings at the Mexican border into Nogales, AZ, as well as into the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  While produce haulers are feasting on higher freight rates, produce shippers are hoping freight costs will subside soon.

Last week rates on Mexican produce coming through Nogales were higher for some destinations with driver and equipment shortages reported.  For example rates from Nogales to Los Angeles were generally ranging from$1,800 to $2,000 per load, a 6 percent increase from a week earlier, but 50 percent higher than the $1,200 rate at the same time during the past two years.

A few rates exceeded $10,000 from Nogales to New York City last week, but recently have dropped as much as 15 percent.

Tomatoes  (all types) are providing the heaviest volume at around 1,150 truck loads a weeks.  About 900 truck loads of cucumbers are crossing the border each week with squash and bell peppers also having good volume.

Shipments Through South Texas

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas some shippers can’t remember such serious truck shortages for this time of the year.  One citrus shipper needed 20 trucks to cover his loads a couple of weeks ago. For a six-week period ending with the first week of January, rates for citrus from the valley to L.A. have soared from $2700 to $5500.  Overall, South Texas produce rates are generally up about 20 percent from a year ago.

Produce rates from South Texas to Chicago have been ranging from $4000 to $5000, with the average being around $4500, still quite a strong rate.  Produce haulers were grossing around $8800 to New York City.

Mexican tomatoes are providing the heaviest volume with about 1000 truck loads a week, with avocados about one-half this volume.  Other leading items range from limes to various types of tomatoes and broccoli.

South Texas grapefruit and oranges are averaging about 350 truck loads each week.

 

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Columbian Imports by U.S. Imports are Approved; Early Season Chilean Fruits are Now Arriving

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01152018Columbian imported avocados are being introduced to the United States…Meanwhile, it is springtime in Chile and it’s that time of the year for arrivals of Chilean grapes and well as other fruits.

Last August the USDA approved hass avocados imports by the U.S. from Colombia.  It won’t be heavy volume for sure but observers see slow, but steady increases in 2018.  Colombian agriculture officials said in a news release that hass exports will start this month from a farm near Antioquia, a production area that has been approved for exports to the U.S.

Hass avocado exports from Colombia will increase by 20 percent to Europe and North America, according to the officials with the Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute. The USDA reports through November 2017,  imports of Columbian avocados totaled 29,300 metric tons.

The Columbian institute works with 33 hass avocado production sites including buffer areas.  After complying with plant health requirements put in place by USDA and Colombian officials, all those sites will be authorized to export to the U.S.

Chilean Fruit Imports

California grape shipments to U.S. markets are on their last leg.  Quality has been variable in recent weeks although plenty of pretty sweet grapes have been loaded for this late in the season.  As California finishes up it season, Chilean import grapes are already arriving by boat at U.S. ports, but at this point mostly at Philadelphia.  As fruit volume increases from Chile, other ports such as those at Los Angeles will begin receiving product.   It is early in the Chilean grape season and around 375 truckloads of the fruit are arriving weekly, but volume is increasing with the majority of the volume coming during the next couple of months.  Chilean peaches and plums also are coming in by boat, but in very light volume that also is increasing.

(Photo was taken by Bill Martin in January 1992 on a trip to Chile.  It was photographed at a grape packing plant in Northern Chile.)

 

 

 

 

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Latest Shipping Estimate for Florida Citrus Remains Unchanged; Vidalia Onions

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DSCN0412The USDA  sees in it latest estimate Florida citrus remaining on schedule to ship 46 million boxes this season….Meanwhile Vidalia onions are in the ground for the season starting in April.

That estimate is a 33 percent plunge from the 2016-17 shipping season, but is unchanged from the December estimate, a first for this season.

The Florida citrus industry took a hammering from Hurricane Irma, which stripped fruit from trees and also stressed many to the point that growers expected increased fruit drop would happen throughout the season. Some trees were uprooted entirely, and others were damaged by standing water in the days after the storm.

The USDA estimate calls for 19 million boxes of early, midseason and navel varieties (down 42 percent from 2016-17) and 27 million boxes of valencias (down 24 percent).

Florida continues to face its lowest citrus forecast in more than 75 years.

Florida’s famous citrus industry and its growers continue to struggle with the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Irma and this damage, combined with the cumulative impacts of citrus greening, leaves Florida’s growers in desperate need of government support.  Industry officials continue to work with Florida Governor Rick Scott and leaders in Washington to get Florida’s growers the relief they need to rebuild and replant.

The USDA estimate for California citrus was also unchanged from December, with the state projected to ship 35 million boxes of navel oranges and 11 million boxes of valencias.  Texas is expected to ship 1.83 million boxes of oranges, up 11 percent from last month’s forecast and up 34 percent from the 2016-17 season.

Florida citrus – grossing about $3200 to New York City.

Vidalia Onions

The Vidalia onion district in Southeastern Georgia accounts for about 22 percent of the total sweet onion shipments in the United States.  The product is in the ground and should be available for loading in April.  Georgia cold and even freezing weather can be okay with planted onions in the ground, as long is the temperature doesn’t plunge to low for too many hours.  There will be more information in the coming weeks.

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Truck Rates for Produce are Definately Higher This Year

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DSCN0413The New Year started off with good news for owner operators and small fleet owners, but had those in the produce industry anguishing over the cost of transportation rates.

A few coast-to-coast rates out of California actually topped $10,000 with the beginning of January.  Produce rates have soared as much as 30 percent from some shipping areas.  It has caused some int he produce industry to consider rail service, something they seldom think of when rates are more in line.

Depending on whether you are a trucker or a shipper and whether you have contract rates or are dealing in the spot market has a big affected on how you view the rate changes.

Washington state apple rates out of the Yakima Valley in early January to Boston were grossing about $8,400, which mean an additional one dollar cost onto a each 40-pound box of apples. While produce haulers like it, not so with produce receivers.

Vegetable shipments out of the Imperial Valley of California to New England led by head lettuce was grossing about $8400, about $2200 more than at the same time two years ago.

Electronic logbooks, which recently went into effect are being blamed for some higher rates, although it doesn’t appear the new regulations are really being enforced, at least yet.  The new devices make it more difficult for truckers to fudge on their hours of service and if adhered to means drivers can travel fewer miles per week.

While it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for higher produce rates, undoubtedly an improving U.S. economy is creating a bigger demand for refrigerated equipment.  Trucking is a hard life and a demanding one and with better economic conditions, many drivers are seeing other jobs becoming available, not only to make more money, but allowing them to be home more with family.  Still, January is supposed to be one of the slowest times of the year for produce truckers as less volume of fruits and vegetables are generally available.  If rates are ever in the tank it is often during the first quarter of the New Year.

 

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Chilean Blueberry Exporters Set Export Record; U.S. Receives More than Half of Volume

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PortEvergladesBy Chilean Fruit Exporters Association

SANTIAGO, CHILE — Chile’s blueberry exporters have achieved the highest weekly export figure in the history of the sector in the country, having shipped some 11,575 tons of fruit during week 51. With 45% of the 2017-18 campaign now completed, a total of around 46,000 tons of Chilean blueberries have been exported over the season as a whole, during which time producers and exporters have benefited from favorable climatic conditions.

According to the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association’s Blueberry Committee, the season has continued to progress in a normal manner, setting it apart from the previous campaign when the crop arrived several weeks early leading to complications in export markets.

During the last week of December (week 52), Chile exported 9,600 tons of blueberries, and it is estimated that over the coming weeks shipments will continue to be maintained at around 9,000 tons, the Committee said in its latest Crop Report.

To date, the US remains the principal market for Chilean blueberries, having received 55% of volumes exported during the current season, followed by Europe at 25% and Asia at 16%.

In terms of organic blueberries, a segment which is being tracked by the Crop Report for the first time, Chile exported 411 tons of fruit in week 52, contributing towards 2,630 tons for the campaign to date as a whole.

Chilean organic blueberries have so far accounted for around 6% of total exports in the ongoing 2017-18 season; a percentage which is expected to increase when harvesting begins in central the Araucan region and other areas further south.

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Chilean Cherry Exports Set a Record of Over 150 Million Tons

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cherriesSANTIAGO, CHILE — The Chilean cherry industry has reached a milestone as an industry,  overtaking the historic cherry export limit of 20 million cartons, by shipping more than 30 million cartons during the current 2017-18 season; a figure that is expected to keep rising as exports continue.

“Up until last week we had reached more than 27 million cartons exported, but with the shipment that went out at the weekend, the industry has now overtaken 30 million cartons, the equivalent of 150,000 tons of cherries,” announced Cristian Tagle, President of the Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX).

According to Tagle, the volume reached to date has now surpassed the record 2014-15 campaign, when Chile exported over 21.7 million cartons or 103,081 tons of cherries.

“We estimate that Chilean cherries will continue to supply the Chinese market past Chinese New Year, which takes place on 16 February,” he said.

Tagle noted that the record exports have only been possible thanks to growers receiving favorable climatic conditions, particularly at the start of the season. However, he added that the achievement was also the result of hard work by producers and exporters, which had led to a greater planted area and an emphasis on better-tasting, more productive varieties, as well as the implementation of technologies that have enabled improved management and care of orchards.

ASOEX President Ronald Bown commented:   “As we reach the record volume that we forecast, we have planned an important and intensive promotional campaign. The good news is we are ready and investing to boost consumption of these high volumes that are now a reality, particularly through promotional actions in China, which is the principle market for Chilean cherries.”

Of the 150,000 tons of Chilean cherries exported to date, some 89.1% was shipped to Asia, with China accounting for 94% of this total. In terms of other export destinations, the U.S. received 4.8% of the total volume, followed by Europe (2.4%), Canada (0.4%) and the Middle East (0.1%).

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Big Volume for Red River Valley Potato Shipments; New Cold Storage Set in Washington

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Tk1Fresh potato shipments out of the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota are expected to be the largest volume in possibly a quarter of a century.  Also, in Washington state, Henningsen Cold Storage is building a new cold storage.

About five million hundredweight(cwt.) of red as well as yellow potatoes should be shipped this season.  During the ’60s and ’70s the Red River Valley actually shipped more spuds. However, there were a lot more wash plants in those days before consolidations took place. There also was not nearly the competition from potato producing regions in other parts of the country.

Another change in the valley has come with production of yellow potatoes.  Volume has tripled over the past six year and now accounts for about 18 percent of the tonnage. Most of the balance comes with the more traditional red potato.

The valley has historically had transportation problems with shortages of trucks.  Part of the problem was truckers having difficulty getting loads into the sparsely populated region.  However, new federal regulations requiring electronic logging devices are making it even more difficult as many drivers are forced to reduce the number of hours they operate.

Red potatoes from Grand Forks, ND to Chicago – grossing about $2000.

Henningsen Cold Storage

by Henningsen Cold Storage Co.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Henningsen Cold Storage Co. announces plans to build a new 5-million cubic foot temperature controlled warehouse to support the growing demand of customers in the Yakima Valley and Columbian Basin regions of Washington state. Construction will begin immediately with completion in the summer of 2018.

Grandview is located near the eastern border of Yakima County in south-central Washington State, and is equidistant, 40 miles, from the city of Yakima and the Tri-Cities of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick. It is in the heart of a thriving agri-business region and is an excellent distribution point to services customers throughout the entire Pacific Northwest.

The new location will offer over 20,000 pallet positions, with a variety of configurations and temperature ranges. It is designed to accommodate both production support and high-volume distribution business. A flexible racking design and layout will enable Henningsen to meet the needs of a wide variety of customer requirements.

Henningsen Transportation Services will augment the operation by offering local, regional and nationwide transportation services to manufacturers, retail and foodservice distributors, and international customers utilizing the new facility. About Henningsen Cold Storage Co.

Henningsen Cold Storage Co. is one of the largest public refrigerated warehousing companies in the U.S., with 11 facilities in six states providing 60 million cubic feet of temperature controlled storage. Henningsen is a fifth-generation family owned corporation with roots dating to 1923. To learn more about Henningsen, visit www.henningsen.com

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Washington State Has Become America’s Biggest Shipper of Blueberries

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BBIn 2016 Washington state shipped 120 million pounds of blueberries, which was six times more than a decade earlier and is now America’s largest blueberry shipper.  In 2017 the final total was more like 132 million pounds.   In 2018, if growing conditions cooperate, the state’s blueberry shipments could hit 145 million pounds.

Blueberry shipments from Washington occur basically over a five-month period from early June until the middle of October.  This is longest season of any blueberry producing state in America.  The first berries of the season come out of Eastern Washington, followed by Northwest Washington.

The biggest volume blueberry counties in Washington are Whatcom, Snohomish and Skagit on the westside of the state and Benton and Franklin counties in Eastern Washington.

Before long, Washington blueberry shipments could reach 200 million pounds annually.

Washington surpassed Georgia in 2015 when it became the nation’s top blueberry producer.  Coming in 3rd with blueberry shipments is Michigan, followed by Oregon.

Washington has about 18,000 acres of “blues,” with about 5,000 acres located in the eastern part of the state, which now produces about 40 percent of this state’s blueberries.  Eastern Washington has some of the largest blueberry growers in the world.

Whatcom County in Northwest Washington is the leading county in the state for production of blues, accounting for about 7,000 acres of blueberries.  Production there has doubled in the past eight years.  Notably, a third of those plants are 4 years old or younger.

Across the state there is a lot of new production from young fields and in 2016 at least 1,000 new acres of blueberries were planted.  Organic blueberries now make up about 25 percent of the total crop.  This follows a worldwide trend where production has increased 40 percent between 2012 and 2016.  An astounding number is that between 1994 and 2014, U.S. blueberry consumption increased 599 percent!

Washington state has four sectors of blueberry production: organic fresh, organic processed, conventional fresh and conventional processed.

Blueberry production in Washington has grown so fast it doesn’t have the capacity to pack all of its fresh or processed crop.  It is estimated at least 40 percent of Washington’s blueberry crop is packed or processed out of state. Oregon and British Columbia are primary destinations. But more than 2 million pounds each also are shipped to Idaho and California for packing.

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Florida Strawberry Shipments Should be Picking Up in January

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TK4Florida strawberry shipments got off to a good start this season and while volume is currently down, this should change once we get into the New Year.

As of December 9th, loadings had totaled 1.258 million 12-pound cartons, up from 1.075 million cartons the same time a year ago.

While some plastic covering for the plants had to be replaced, strawberries were unaffected by Hurricane Irma last September.  The fruit also came through a cold spell in the middle of December in good shape.  However, that colder weather has resulted in fewer shipments the last half of December, but volume to return more to normal as we progress into January.

Because of  newer strawberry varieties and planting of plugs there was more volume in November than there used to be.  Fruit was being shipped in at the start of November this season instead of after Thanksgiving as in the past.  Florida strawberry shipment for the fresh market should continue through March.

Florida strawberry shipments in calendar year 2016 totaled 18.3 million 12-pound cartons, down slightly from 19.2 million cartons in 2015 but way up from 11.5 million cartons in 2010, according to the USDA.  Florida strawberry shipments typically peak in February and March, with those two months accounting for 32 and 37 percent of annual shipments, respectively.

In 2016, December accounted for 21 percent of total shipments and January had a 9 percent share of total annual shipments.

Additionally, in 2016, Florida strawberry acreage totaled 10,800 planted acres and 10,700 harvested acres of strawberries.

Each year Easter provides a big demand for strawberries.  In 2018, Easter will fall on April 1st, instead of April 16th as it did in 2017.  Florida should still have good supplies of strawberries to ship ahead of the Easter observance.

Wish Farms of Plant City, FL accounts for about 17 to 18 percent of the total strawberry acreage.

 

 

 

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