Posts Tagged “produce trucker”
In 2014 TransFresh Corporation introduced the Tectrol Storage Solution utilizing BreatheWay Technology by California produce company Apio to provide more reliable storage for fresh blueberries. While the produce trucker hauling these berries may never see the process, that driver should benefit from it.
Rich Macleod, TransFresh vice president, pallet division, based in Salinas, CA, says, “There’s a reason we call it a storage solution….blueberry growers store their blueberries (in a controlled atmosphere bag) prior to shipping. The storage bag is removed before being shipped.”
He adds the bag is dynamically different from modified atmosphere for which TransFresh has built a name with strawberries.
Macleod points out blueberries after harvest are sometimes stored as long as four to six weeks as a way of balancing the market.
“To the driver that means that load will be available on a scheduled basis,” Macleod relates. “For example, he will know he needs to be in the Northwest every Tuesday to pick up six pallets of blueberries. It won’t be this frantic thing like picking up and delivering strawberries or cherries.”
Additionally, Macleod sees the Storage Solution as reducing the chances of quality problems at destination, which could lead to claims or deductions from the freight rate.
“When the market is orderly, that’s good for everybody,” he says.
Looking to the future, Macleod notes they are starting to solve the blueberry storage solutions for international transportation. If the shipper is an exporter, when those berries are loaded into a 40-f00t sea van, the product is placed in a controlled atmosphere. He also sees the day when this could be applicable for blueberries and other items being imported to by US companies from countries such as Chile and Peru.
“I don’t see this replacing containers,, but it could certainly impact the number of containers used. I see them being used side by side,” he says.
In the controlled atmosphere systems there is a device that records the atmosphere for the entire container. However, Macleod sees this being cost prohibitive to something like that in each pallet. However, there is research being conducted in this area.
Too many receivers, and consumers are dissatisfied with the quality of this stone fruit and much of the fault may lie with what has happened prior to the produce trucker picking up the fruit.
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA created the Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide about 30 years ago and it still remains in demand from brokers, retailers and carriers needing accurate information regarding in- transit temperature settings and proper mixing of produce items in the same load.
For example, the guide recommends peaches be transported at 34 to 36 degrees F. and can be effectively shipped with many other fruit items and some vegetables.
“The temperature killing range for peaches is roughly 38 to 50 degrees F. Realistically, that is the (temperature) range where everything (in produce) is transported,” Macleod says.
He cites four specific factors which can hinder a good, quality arrival for peaches, even if the trucker maintains the proper temperature, has his reefer unit calibrated and trailer has features ranging from bulkhead, seals, and doors in good condition, among other things.
(1) Growers should not cross subliminal,or inadequate varieties of peaches and expect a good product.
(2) The peaches should not be harvested before they mature.
(3) After the peaches are harvested, there should be “intermitent” warming, where the fruit sets in a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees F. for a day or so.
(4) Then the peaches should be cooled and packed with a pulp temperature of 36 degrees F.
“If you do all of these steps together, the probability is the quality is going to be pretty good,” Macleod states.
He says the peach growing and shipping industry is working to address these issues, but it often is easier said than done.
Obstacles or issues too often can waylay the best made plains. For example, due to weather factors, early variety peaches may end up overlapping with a later variety fruit. Another example deals with markets. A “hot” or high priced market for peach sellers may result in the product being picked before it is mature. Then suddenly there may be too many peaches on the market, the prices collapse and the product is held back with sellers hoping for better profits to be made.
Stone fruit held in storage or transported at the wrong temperature becomes “mealy or flavorless,” and turns brown on the inside, even though the outside of the fruit may look good.
“It’s called internal breakdown,” Macleod says.
About the time a produce operation may get all of the issues figured out, something may happen such as new managment coming in and the same old problems start all over gain. Meanwhile, the produce trucker may end up in the middle of a problem at destination that may not even be his or her fault.
(This is Part 1 0f 5, featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)
“When I started trucking 30 years ago, I was making similar wages to what these guys are making today,” states Randy Boushey, who used to truck a lot and still owns three older Freightliners he uses when in a pinch.
Randy still has his CDL, still trucks on occasion, but focuses more on being president of A & L Potato Co., a 71-year-old company that packs and ships potatoes out of East Grand Forks, MN.
He recalls making “big money” by comparison to what drivers are receiving today.
“I wish I’d put some of it away. What’s the farmer’s prayer?” he asks himself. “Please God let me make lots of money this year, and I promise I won’t piss it away this time.”
Randy still has fond memories of the days when he spent more driving a big rig. In fact, he claims he would put another newer models on the road if getting and keeping good, qualified drivers wasn’t such a challenge.
He ships a lot of red potatoes out of the Red River of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Randy has seen scenario from both sides of the fence; as a produce trucker and as a produce shipper. He realizes how important trucking is to the equation.
“Customers don’t want to hear excuses because they didn’t receive their potatoes because you couldn’t get a truck,” Randy says. “Getting trucks to come into the valley has been a challenge early in the potato season, because there hasn’t been a lot of outbound loads here.”
Randy points out a number of changes in transportation are occurring in the Red River Valley. For example, Britton Transport of Grand Forks, ND recently acquired Scott’s Inc., a truck brokerage. Pardee Transportation of Brooks, MN has bought out Prairie Line, a small fleet based in Fargo, ND. Plus, there was another trucking that recently filed bankruptcy.
“It is not going to get any easier. As good as our freight rates are on our commodities leaving here, that is only half of the puzzle. We’ve got to be able to load the trucks back into here. With $4-plus per gallon diesel fuel, it is imperative there is a decent rate for the truck,” Randy concludes.