***Check out our produce season coverage for 2015 with Texas Produce Shipping!!! And download the 2015 Guide to Produce Season Shipping for FREE… It’s April 2014, “produce season” is upon us and shipping rates are going up in an already tight capacity truck market. Though we don’t ship fruits and vegetables here at FreightPros, we’ll discuss how produce season shipping rates are increased across the industry, regardless of if you’re shipping veggies or not. Capacity plays a large role in truckload rates and pricing. An easy to way to think about this is if there are lots of trucks on the road looking for freight, the prices for shipping are going to be lower as carriers realize some “freight” AKA “profit,” is better than nothing. The other side of that coin is that when there is an abundance of freight to be shipped, the carriers know they can raise their rates and still get business. Produce season is a time in the shipping industry when there is an abundance of product to ship, therefore the rates will increase.
What is Produce Season?
Produce season is the time when most of the major fruits and vegetables harvested earlier in the year are ready to be packed up and shipped out to grocery stores and vendors across the country. There are three areas where produce season shipping rates are most varied: Southern Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, Southern California, and Central Florida. Though these are the main areas of produce distribution and growth, shipping rates increase for the surrounding areas and states during produce season as well. We mentioned earlier that shipping costs during produce season are higher than normal because of capacity, though most of these produce season shipping rate increases are regional in nature. This doesn’t necessarily mean that shipping rates will be normal throughout the northeast for instance, but usually rates will vary more wildly in the three geographic regions mentioned above. This limited capacity exercises itself in the number of trucks available to ship commodities of all kinds, not only produce. In other words, the more trucks needed to ship produce, the less trucks available to ship any other commodity, therefore the price to ship that commodity rises as demand increases for free trucks (even if you’re not shipping produce). This is the main issue and cause for produce season shipping rates to be on the rise in 2014. Another thing to keep in mind for shipping purposes during produce season 2014 is that most fruits and vegetables will need to be transported via a “reefer truck.” What’s a reefer truck you ask? It’s a truck that is capable of refrigerating freight that it carries. Obviously, these sorts of trucks are needed for produce shipping to keep the fruit and vegetables from spoiling. Many drivers and carrier operators will park their normal dry vans and lease or rent reefer trucks to “get in on the action” of the produce season shipping, putting more of a strain on capacity to ship other commodities. The problem with reefer trucks is that they are already few and far between. During produce season 2014 they’ll be even harder to find, leading to higher prices for their services, especially in the geographical “hot zones” we talked about earlier.
How to keep produce season shipping costs down?
The most important thing to keep in mind to keep your shipping costs down during produce season 2014 is to have a good relationship with your freight broker. Communication is key in the shipping industry, and that’s never more true than during produce season. Let your broker know exactly what you have to ship, and the time limits of when it needs to be delivered. Often times if a product is not time sensitive, it is more sensible to push back the shipping until capacity opens up a bit more, saving you money. And don’t worry, produce season doesn’t last forever. It usually recedes around July with prices dropping to their normal market numbers. In the meantime, I’ll be learning a bit about Buzzstream.
Logan is a Content Marketing Associate at FreightPros in charge of social media and content creation. He has a writing degree from the University of Oklahoma, but lives life on the edge and resides in Longhorn country. He loves Murakami books, Tarantino movies, and Vonnegut books. Lots of books. One day he will own a dog, but first he'll have to get a yard.
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