Shippers in the food and beverage industry have specific requirements — and they have every right to have high expectations of their transportation providers. After all, their shipments often require special handling, their schedules can be demanding, their risk of spoilage is high, and their safety and sanitation requirements are rigorous.
For these reasons and more, food and beverage customers must carefully vet their shipping partners to ensure they’re providing the high levels of service required to make the country’s food and beverage industry run securely and smoothly.
Be sure you discuss how your transportation provider handles the following food and beverage shipping challenges:
Fear of a long, costly and difficult startup is a chief reason why food and beverage companies don’t switch dedicated freight companies. But with the right transportation partner, startup is not an issue. Look for a robust and thorough startup plan that demonstrates that the transportation provider not only has all the capabilities you need, but also has a proven methodology for ramping up operations without pain and suffering — on your part or theirs.
Anyone can work 8 to 5, but managing people and transportation 24/7 isn’t a job every logistics provider does well. Labor challenges have plagued the trucking industry for years, but the most competent transportation companies have developed smart programs and processes to ensure that their drivers are well trained, ready to work, and able to meet nighttime delivery schedules with no problems.
No shipper wants to endure the horror of a temperature failure. That’s why it’s essential to work with a transportation company that carefully maintains its fleet to ensure transit temperatures are maintained, products are delivered on time and there are no surprises, especially with perishable items. Service and attention to detail must be top notch with temperature-controlled freight.
Protocols for food safety and freight security are tight for good reason. If your particular type of freight requires specific certifications, be sure to cover them in your contracts and agreements. All required forms, documents, procedures, policies and training must be tracked and documented. All paperwork and protocols must be up to date.
Having spotted equipment onsite isn’t unusual, but your logistics provider can add value by spotting the specific and different types of equipment you need. Dry vans, refrigerated trailers, export-ready — it’s a huge time saver if you have what you need onsite, ready to be loaded off the production line. This adds flexibility and efficiency where and when you need it most. Also, ask about yard management to position, schedule and load equipment in the most streamlined way.
If you’re interested in revenue sharing using backhaul loads, work with a transportation provider who’s eager to offset your costs and able to make backhauls happen — conveniently, seamlessly and safely. In the food and beverage transportation arena, you must have confidence that your dedicated food-grade trailers are carrying appropriate backhaul loads. Some transportation companies manage these arrangements better than others, so look for those with experience and expertise.
The last few years have underscored the importance of flexibility. While you may think your needs are straightforward, things change. Working with a transportation company that can offer you multiple options, including capacity and warehouse solutions, means you will have a team on your side who can help you manage peaks, handle disruptions and partner with you when the unexpected happens.
Finally, take the time to speak with any potential partner’s current customers. References are important, and provide an excellent way to get feedback on performance and service.
If you are seeking a food and beverage transportation partner, let’s talk about your needs. Covenant is highly experienced in food and beverage logistics solutions including warehouse and transportation. We’re happy to discuss our capabilities with you and how we can help.