Posts Tagged “Allen Lund Company”

Keeping It Fresh: Port Delays Will Continue into 2022

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By Karman Eckelbarger, ALC Orlando

Overseas produce from South America could be facing delays due to the flood of cargo ships invading the ports. These port delays and supply chain labor challenges are going to affect the delivery of produce across the east coast. This is especially concerning for delays that could jeopardize the shelf life of berries, citrus, and light density produce that has shorter shelf lives than higher density foods. The demand for overseas goods is on the rise, whilst the availability of drivers and vehicles domestically is plummeting. This can mean higher prices for produce as companies switch or seek out other methods for getting fresh produce into stores. It also means that the transportation and logistics of getting produce delivered on time is going to be increasingly challenging.

Ports are swelled with delayed ships and produce delivery is obstructed as labor and transportation agencies face shortages.

In anticipation of the holiday season rapidly approaching, ports are preparing for the peak season as an influx of ships heads to the east and west coast. However, many of those ships will be surprised to reach those ports and face record-setting delays for the year. As ships flood the west coast, transportation companies facing labor shortages and a drought of available trucks will have to delay unloading the cargo. This is in addition to the unparalleled demand for imported goods that markets have seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

This influx in demand for goods sourced from abroad has continued to pile up on the ports resulting in record-breaking delays to get containers unloaded and ready for on land delivery. Port officials expect most ships to face delays of at least eight days before they can be docked. However, some ships are facing weeks of delays before they can hope to be unloaded.

Consumers are increasingly turning to e-commerce to fulfill their buying needs which means many carriers will have to turn to air-freight or other modes of transportation to evade the delays ships are facing at the ports. For imported produce, the effects have created a risky venture. In addition to west coast ports filling up fast, many ships are seeking re-routes to the east coast in hopes of finding a better unloading date. However, this has created a backlog in the supply chain as even these ports are incapable of handling such a high capacity during this time. For instance, ports that typically experience lighter traffic like Savannah and Charleston are being bombarded with ships awaiting appointments to be unloaded at the moment. As all steps in the supply chain face labor shortages many ports are struggling to keep up.

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Karman Eckelbarger is currently an Intern at ALC Orlando, FL. Karman is currently enrolled as an English major at the University of Central Florida and hopes to graduate with a Bachelors in Fall 2022.

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Keeping It Fresh: We’re All in This Together

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By Steve Hull, ALC Portland

2021 continues to be a challenging year for so many. Those of us in the logistics world have been working long hours and dealing with unprecedented upheaval in the transportation space. We know, from our discussions with so many of our shipper and carrier clients that you all are working just as hard.  We’ve all been missing out on chances to get together and collaborate in person during this time. We’ve missed out on attending some produce-focused trade shows in person, including the United Fresh convention and Expo along with PMA Fresh Summit. Those in-person opportunities that we once maybe took for granted are something very special. One of the things missed was the opportunity to talk about and ask for help with one of Allen Lund Company’s core Acts of Kindness, Navidad en el Barrio.

Since 2004, the Allen Lund Company has been offering assistance including freight shipments to Navidad en el Barrio. First established in the 1970s by former LA Ram’s kicker Danny Villanueva, the non-profit collects money and food for the underserved Hispanic communities in Southern California. ALC first assisted with the transportation of groceries that were included in food bags that are distributed to every family. In the early days, those food bags did not contain any perishable food items, such as fresh produce. Recognizing the strong relationships that ALC has with the growers in California, Navidad en el Barrio asked ALC to help make those food bags much more nutritious. Beginning in 2006, fresh fruits and vegetables became a consistent part of each food bag.

Critically during this pandemic, the need for assistance is as high as ever. Navidad will provide meals to approximately 10,000 families this year! We are asking for any growers/importers/suppliers who are looking to step up and make a difference in the lives of so many deserving families in Southern California by making donations of nutritious perishable foods. In the past, through the generosity of companies such as Rainier Fruit, Wada Farms, Grimmway Farms, Wonderful Citrus, Mission Foods, and Coca-Cola, we’ve been able to help provide fresh fruits, potatoes, carrots, avocados, bottled water, and juices as well as many other available seasonal products for the food bags.

Since we didn’t get the chance to ask you in person this year, we are asking now virtually. We need your help! Christmas is fast approaching, and we are currently working on lining up donations for the 2021 distribution that will take place in early December. Please, reach out to either me at steve.hull@allenlund.com, or ALC Marketing & Communications Director Nora Trueblood at nora.trueblood@allenlund.com if your business can help. We appreciate your participation.

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Keeping It Fresh: Food Demand and Market Conditions

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By Doug Plantada, ALC Los Angeles

Imagine you’re walking down your local produce aisle, looking to cross some fruits and veggies off your list, and you notice something is a bit off. The lemons are a little smaller than usual, watermelons have a slightly different look to their rind. Your favorite Hass avocados aren’t quite as meaty and you can’t put your finger on them but their shape is different than you’re used to as well.

As food demands increase as a result of Covid-19 and the natural disasters of the past two years, this exact experience is becoming more common as imports of fresh produce have risen dramatically across the country. In 2021, U.S. imports of fresh vegetables from January through May were at $4.88 billion, up 4% compared with 2020.

Of the many diverse commodities grown in the United States, onions are one of the hardest hit by import increases, up 14% at $221.1 million this year. Typically, onion imports would support the industry by providing supply during the off-season, but mid-February freezing temperatures in South Texas significantly reduced yields for onion crops, and that has translated to higher prices this year.

Onion shippers are looking to imports to make up for lost crops, which according to Dante Galeazzi, president, and CEO of the Texas International Produce Association, estimates point to damage of 20% to 30% of crops in 2021. In order to maintain control over market conditions in cases like natural disasters and the increased demand due to the pandemic, the USDA has historically agreed with producers/shippers to create something called a “Marketing Order.”

Marketing agreements and orders are initiated by the food industry to help provide stable markets for dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops. Each order and agreement is tailored to the individual industry’s needs. Marketing Orders are a binding regulation for the entire industry in a geographical area and are approved by the producers and the Secretary of Agriculture. In short, Marketing Orders would allow onion growers in Texas to promote their products by collectively influencing the supply, demand, or price of particular varieties of onion.
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Doug Plantada has been with the Allen Lund Company for two years and is currently a broker in training at the Los Angeles office.

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Keeping It Fresh: California’s Seasonal Drought

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By Milagros Aredo, ALC San Francisco

Seasonal droughts in California have become more frequent and severe in recent years. However, what California is experiencing right now has everyone who is involved in agriculture concerned. California is the largest grower of US fresh produce.

There are over 69,000 California farms and ranches that are being affected that supply over a third of U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits. To keep up with demand, these farmers rely heavily on their regional water availability which is a huge challenge today. In the farming valleys of California, an ongoing drought is impacting both the production and price of the crops. With scarce water, farmers are being forced to rip out their trees and produce early because of drylands and high temperatures. This is a tough business decision for them because it affects their seasonal production and becomes more costly to replant and regrow.

For example, California almonds harvesting accounts for about 80% of global production. Almonds require more water to thrive on and if they lack moisture a 25-year investment can be ripped from the ground. To keep their farms from ruins, growers are searching more for underground water resources.

They are drilling depths of 1000 feet for water to sustain thirsty citrus, fruits, and pistachios which adds costs and takes away farmland from production. They’re also exploring other possibilities such as dry-farming techniques that rely less on water. Farmers are stuck between scaling back and prioritizing growing low value vs high-value crops and how much of them should be planted.

To produce as much as possible, farmers are planting crops closer together in an attempt to make the root structure denser and keep moisture in the soil. They also focus on crops that require less water. Tree crops like avocados that are highly water-intensive have gone up by 10% in retail price from last year. The water crisis is causing a short food supply in retail.

Certain commodities at grocery stores are lightly stocked to empty and shoppers are seeing inflation on prices because of this. Vendors are shifting where they grow and sell things to help increase production to keep the commodities affordable and readily available. Having no control over the weather, growers will need to continue to find more ways to adapt and find supplemental water in order to supply 400 key commodities to millions of Americans.

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Milagros Aredo is a senior transportation broker with ALC San Francisco, CA. Milagros has six years of experience in logistics and graduated with a double major in International Business and Marketing from USF.

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Keeping It Fresh: Keeping up with Demand

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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.

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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.

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Allen Lund Company Renews with U.S. SmartWay Transport Partnership

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Allen Lund Company has announced that it has submitted and received approval for their current data submission to the SmartWay Transport Partnership, an innovative collaboration between U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the industry.

The SmartWay Transport Partnership provides a framework to assess the environmental and energy efficiency of goods movement supply chains. 

Allen Lund Company will continue to contribute to the Partnership’s savings of 312 million barrels of oil, $41.8 billion on fuel costs and 133 metric tons of CO2, 2.6 million tons of NOx, and 109 million tons of PM… This is the equivalent of the annual electricity use in 20 million homes. By joining SmartWay Transport Partnership, Allen Lund Company demonstrates its strong environmental leadership and corporate responsibility.

Executive VP, Kenny Lund commented, “Allen Lund Company has been a proud participant in SmartWay for many years. We will continue to help the transportation industry to deliver goods in the most efficient way possible. Our experienced employees and cutting-edge technology allow carriers and shippers to run more loaded miles with less waiting and supply chain disruption.”

Developed jointly in early 2003 by EPA and Charter Partners represented by industry stakeholders, environmental groups, American Trucking Associations, and Business for Social Responsibility, this innovative program celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2014. Partners rely upon SmartWay tools and approaches to track and reduce emissions and fuel use from goods movement. The Partnership currently has over 3,000 Partners including shipper, logistics companies, truck, rail, barge, and multimodal carriers.

For information about the SmartWay Transport Partnership visit www.epa.gov/smartway. 

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Keeping It Fresh: Produce Season Challenges

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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.   

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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.     

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Keeping It Fresh: It Never Rains in Southern California

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By Iyer Amruthur, ALC San Antonio

Lush leaves, warm waters, flourishing flora, are just a few of the things that come to mind in a picturesque way when one thinks of California. But California is not just a “start-all, end-all” vacation spot. Coastal California actually has a lot more to do with you than you think.

Do you enjoy complete and balanced meals? Of course, you do! It’s important to maintain your body and keep yourself properly hydrated and hit all the food groups. Fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, grains, are all main staples but chances are your fruit didn’t come from a couple of miles down the road, it more than likely came from one of our powerhouse produce states.

Just to name a few: Texas, Florida, and California. These three states play a big role in getting those delicious dinners and popping picnics to come together. Did you know California by itself produces more cash receipts from produce than the entire Mountain/Pacific region states combined or that about half as much comes from Texas, which has 86% of its land [ocregister.com]used for agricultural production?

While this is fantastic for our country to have so many geographic options for crops, sometimes those regions come with a bit of a headache down the road. As you know historically, California has experienced drought from the early 2000s to today, and if you’re a Texas resident you know we’ve been feeling the same. What does that mean at the end of the day for our nation?

Let’s step back for a second and have some breakfast, and figure things out. As you may have heard one of the trendiest foods incorporated into breakfast this side of the decade has been avocados, maybe you’ve seen them aesthetically spread onto toast.

Along with many other functional foods, avocados have almost doubled in price (complimented with far more than double the demand) since a few years ago. Unfortunately, that breakfast might be a little bit more expensive on the west coast now. California is one of our nation’s leaders in producing avocados.

In 2014, California’s last notable drought [businessinsider.com[businessinsider.com] top exports such as avocados, berries, cruciferous vegetables, i.e. cauliflower, cabbage, kale, as well as grapes, and lettuce rose in price anywhere from 17 to 62 cents depending on the product.

It’s not all bad news, we can look at some silver linings while we wait on the clouds to come back and rehydrate our fields. Texas shares a similar palette on many in-demand produce products with California and has seen a recent increase in exports of avocados to pick up the slack left behind.

According to data from the USDA [data.ers.usda.gov] website, avocado demand grew from 155,379 ($1000’s) in December 2020 to 231,835 in Jan 2021 and 315,128 by March of the same year.  Many times, when we see a lack of a commodity in one area, we’ll look to grow it somewhere else, or import it.

Texas has the perfect climate for avocados, and also controls some of the main border entries for Mexico, which exports billions of dollars worth of avocados [agmrc.org] every year to us. This new entry point/origin for produce shifts the freight market as well to create demand for trucks in Texas while decreasing the demand in California.

To sum things up, when it starts to “Never rain in [Southern] California” we see the whole nation shift their focuses on backups, imports, and inevitably higher costs. So be sure to avoca-do yourself a favor and pick up some delicious guacamole ingredients while we wait out this drought and get produce to your state from wherever its’ freshest!

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Iyer Amruthur is a business development specialist in the Allen Lund Company, San Antonio office and has two years of logistics experience. Iyer attended The University of Georgia where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, with a minor in Communications.

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Keeping It Fresh and Balanced

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By Matt Sarko,Transportation Broker, ALC Cleveland

Since the beginning of last year, the increase in the cost of freight has not only impacted the transportation industry but the economy as a whole. Transportation costs are now at an all-time high as drivers and trucks are currently in short supply.

Food prices rose 3.9% in 2020 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture anticipates another 2% to 3% increase for costs in 2021. The increase in transportation prices is primarily due to the shortage in drivers causing trucking companies to increase wages to attract more employees.

Additionally, the market is experiencing a shortage in semi-conductors, which is keeping new trucks from coming on the market and has since exacerbated the issue.  The increase in transportation costs only adds to the supply chain problems for growers, suppliers, and retailers as they are still experiencing the effects of congested ports as well as the winter storm, which both continue to have widespread impacts across the U.S.

Furthermore, the rise in the price of fuel is also a major contributor to the inflated freight costs. As a result of these supply chain complications, retailers have begun raising prices on a number of different goods in order to offset the shortages and transportation costs. “The rise in transportation prices affects everything from the farmer and the tractor, to the fertilizer and even the plastic hamper you put the product in.”

With the supply chain in disorder, we will continue to see a rise in the price of consumer goods. Moreover, the cost of transportation will ultimately affect the prices of publicly traded companies such as Bed Bath & Beyond and General Mills, considering they have alerted investors about these problems on their earnings call.

For transportation brokers like ourselves, taking advantage of the spot market whenever possible might be the best way to combat the losses taken on contractual year round rates as freight prices continue to rise, and to also keep important products, produce, and perishables moving across the country.

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Matt began working fulltime for the Allen Lund Company in August of 2020 as a transportation broker for the Cleveland office. He originally started working his summer breaks during college as a broker’s assistant for the office. Matt joined the company with a degree in Finance from John Carroll University.

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Keeping It Fresh: Tight Truck Supply Demands Tighter Relationships

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By Paul Nesbit, Account Manager, ALC Des Moines

Why are the rates so high? Where are all the trucks? When will it go back to normal? 

All modes of transportation have been struggling to find these answers, the light at the end of the tunnel so to say. But the reality is we don’t have these answers. The last year has been challenging for obvious reasons, and as the containment of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to progress, so does the demand for transportation capacity.

How do we continue to service our customers, source capacity, and stay profitable all at the same time? Is that even possible? Yes, it is. And it boils down to a better understanding of the market, drivers, and communication.

The usual conversations between brokers and customers are focused on load details, commodities, quantities, temps, ready dates, and so forth. But, why not also discuss the market conditions related to bigger picture items? Information is a powerful tool for productive decision making and for educating our fellow supply chain members. We can work together to share insights and forecasts too!

As the gap between truck supply and freight demand continues to spread, most of us can attest it’s the tightest truck market in decades. Couple that with a driver pool which continues to age due to more drivers retiring while fewer drivers enter the workforce, and we all face an extremely fragile market.

Carriers are doing anything possible to help combat this issue and get drivers in the seat. We hear of this from our carrier partners every day.  We also find that the small to midsize carriers are more successful in growing their fleets than the larger players as it’s easier to go from 5 trucks to 10 than it is from 50 to a 1,000.

At Allen Lund we are blessed that our core carriers fall into this category as it allows us to keep up with our customer demand in a way their asset pools cannot. All too often we find ourselves in a position of wanting to fulfill a buyer’s need for transportation and an obvious lack of supply that fits all of their freight parameters. Whether that be finding capacity within their vendor’s allowance, or finding a truck within the allotted freight spend that’s also able to deliver the load by the desired arrival time. This is a great time for honest communication and education about how to work together in this challenging market.

Maybe the buyer is willing to sacrifice price in order to keep a timeline or vice versa. Maybe there’s an ad and we need to make it happen, or maybe there is enough inventory on hand to tide them over until next week while we shop for better pricing. Unfortunately, with perishable shipments, time is of the essence. If we can’t find flexibility on load dates, maybe next time we can increase the lead time.

Anticipating continued driver shortages and elevated consumer demand as the world opens back up from the coronavirus will be key to staying ahead of the always hectic produce season. Buyers, brokers, and transportation managers will all benefit by being more comfortable talking about freight spend and capacity restraints. A wise man once said that there’s no hill for a climber.

We are all in this game together. Communication on market trends and drilling down to prioritize our freight will help us get through this as we establish the new norm in transportation.

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Paul Nesbit began working for the Allen Lund Company in February of 2020, when they acquired Des Moines Truck Brokers (DMTB) in Norwalk, IA. He has been working in transportation brokerage since graduating from Grand View University in 2012. He first started as an admin for TMC Transportation completing carrier setups and billing. Nesbit later obtained his CTB and was hired at DMTB. He has been an account manager in the Des Moines office for the last eight years.

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