Without fail, food transportation is a major topic of conversation at our booth every year at the Summer and Winter Fancy Food Shows, and understandably so. Transportation is a major expense for food companies and can quickly become a major hassle to manage. Your customers want your products, and you need a way to safely and efficiently get your products to them. You need to accomplish this without burning through your entire logistics budget, while still following a certain quality standard to ensure your products arrive safely and on time. If you’re shipping food, you should be looking for these qualities in your transportation provider before you even consider loading pallets of your products on their trucks:

Quality Standards

If you’ve ever had bad sushi or oysters, you know that when it comes to food, it’s not a wise to skimp on quality. This is just as true for eating food as it is for transporting food. Food is arguably one of the most difficult commodities to transport and the steps your transportation provider takes to ensure quality are essential for shipping food safely. For one, your transportation provider should have comprehensive carrier screening processes and standards. At an absolute minimum, your transportation provider needs to be screening their carriers for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration registrations, Food Safety Modernization Act compliance, past infractions and insurance coverage. It’s very unlikely that a carrier who doesn’t have these qualifications will be up to par to transporting food responsibly and legally.

Once your transportation provider has their network of carriers established, it’s crucial that standards are maintained through quality monitoring and key performance indicator tacking. When it comes to food transportation, the most crucial elements for a successful journey are trailer quality, temperature maintenance and cleanliness. You must ensure that your transportation provider and warehousing provider are verifying trailer quality pre-loading and properly loading the trailers to ensure that the product remains in the same condition as when it left.

Customer Focus

Your transportation provider should focus on forming partnerships with not only you, but your customers as well. A transportation provider with experience shipping food, will likely already have established relationships with your retailers and distributors. These relationships allow your transportation provider to meet your retailers’ routing requirements by following scheduling procedures and utilizing preferred carriers. Your transportation provider should also strive to understand the unique intricacies of your product and your distribution model. The more knowledge they have of you as a company, the better they can develop a solution for servicing your transportation needs.

Varied Service Offerings

No two retailers are the same, and neither are their shipping requirements. In order to properly service your customers, you’ll want to partner with a transportation provider who has a variety of service offerings to get any job done. For example, certain retailers (such as Wakefern) often prefer direct-store-delivery (DSD) programs through your transportation provider, which frees up the retailer’s distribution centers and transportation networks. Consolidation programs are also extremely popular with retailers and distributors: by partnering with a warehouse that stores products for specific retailers, your transportation provider can form consolidation programs that group together different orders from different vendors which will all ship on a single truck to the retailers’ distribution center. Compared to each of those orders arriving on separate trucks, consolidations programs can greatly improve operational efficiently and save money for both you and your retailers. All these programs will allow you to better service your customers and allow your relationships with them to grow stronger.

When all of these factors come together, your food transportation network can operate as smooth as butter. Don’t skip reviewing any of these topics when screening a potentially transportation provider, as it might prevent major issues in the future. A few bad shipments can easily ruin your relationship with a retailer and cost you substantially in chargebacks. If you’re having trouble with your current transportation provider, don’t struggle any longer, contact Continental Logistics today to discuss how we can help ship your food products to your customers.