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Shippers who sell produce know there are distinct challenges involved with moving fruit, vegetables, nuts and other fresh products to their destination. That’s primarily because produce often requires temperature-controlled environments to prevent damage or spoilage, adding a layer of complexity (and cost) to their shipment that is not typical with standard freight shipping.

Additionally, many produce shippers rely on less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping to move their shipments. This mode can be cost-effective and more efficient than truckload shipping in many scenarios. However, with LTL freight, shippers will share space on trucks with other companies, meaning they will need to work with carriers with refrigerated freight services that can ensure proper temperature control throughout their entire trailer.

Understanding which services to utilize and carriers to work with to move fresh products can be daunting. However, there are options to assist you when shipping refrigerated items.

How To Ship Fresh Produce With the Help of a 3PL

There are many variables involved when shipping produce that may be beyond the average shipper's expertise. Working with an industry-leading third-party logistics (3PL) company can help.

A 3PL will provide access to an extensive carrier network, warehousing capacity and internal expertise to ensure you utilize the right refrigerated LTL services and get your optimal condition. To help, here are seven FAQs that you should ask regarding their expertise in shipping produce.

How do you ensure you are shipping produce at the correct temperature?

Refrigerated LTL trailers generally maintain a temperature range instead of a specific degree. This allows carriers to consolidate products that have similar temperature requirements on the same truck. Ask your 3PL about their refrigerated freight services and whether they offer the optimal temperature ranges for your produce.

How do you keep refrigerated freight safe during multiple LTL stops?

Unlike full truckload, LTL shipments don't ship door to door. They are unloaded at warehouses, fulfillment centers or shipping hubs during their journey, then reloaded with other products with similar destinations. This means your produce will not stay inside one trailer for its entire journey. To help keep your produce spoilage-free, make sure your 3PL utilizes temperature-controlled transfer environments to account for the time when your shipment isn't on a truck.

How should I pack my refrigerated freight in preparation for shipment?

Even though your product will be shipped at optimal temperatures, it's still a good idea to consider preventative packaging. This will help keep them at the right temperature during loading, unloading, storage, transfer and if temperatures change inside the truck. There are many suggested packaging techniques, including the use of insulation materials like foam, foil, blankets, gel coolants and dry ice. A 3PL can help you with your refrigerated LTL packaging needs and provide guidance on best practices.

What equipment should the carrier provide for shipping refrigerated items?

Aside from the regular equipment needed to ship LTL, carriers obviously will need the technology to ship your produce at optimal temperatures in their trailers. But just as important for you (and your produce), carriers should also be equipped with resources to provide continuous temperature monitoring. This real-time detection technology allows carriers to adjust quickly and prevent damage if there is a temperature shift in the trailer. Monitoring will also help create a paper trail, so to speak, that will allow you to identify where along your supply chain your produce spoiled.

How do I plan for peak produce season?

Produce season generally runs February through July in the United States. This is when the highest volume of produce is shipped to grocery stores, restaurants and other destinations. As you might expect, produce season freight rates increase and space on trucks becomes very tight during this time. To remain competitive, shippers can work with a shipping partner. A 3PL should have a strong relationship with a network of refrigerated LTL carriers and can leverage their buying power to get top rates and space on trucks when capacity is tight.

Does shipping produce by refrigerated LTL create any weight and size challenges?

Since you are using additional materials to insulate and keep your produce at desired temperatures, be sure to account for the additional weight and size this may add to your shipment. Oversized LTL loads may be subject to freight reclassification and an additional fee may be assessed. A 3PL can help you create strategies to properly package your produce, prevent reclassification and cut costs.

How do I find the right refrigerated freight services 3PL to help ship produce?

First and foremost, your 3PL must have a successful history of moving refrigerated freight and can speak to their expertise and experience specifically with produce. Additionally, they must have a network of carriers that utilize the latest technology to ensure your packages are kept at their optimal temperature. Lastly, the 3PL should have access to warehousing and fulfillment centers that are temperature controlled and provide a safe place while loading, unloading and storing your produce.

GlobalTranz Is a Top Provider of Refrigerated LTL Services

GlobalTranz is an industry-leading 3PL that provides refrigerated freight shipping solutions to thousands of companies across the United States. We help shippers with their temperature-sensitive products by providing services for every stage of the shipments' journey. We also leverage our carrier relationships to get top rates and space on trucks when capacity is tight.

GlobalTranz also equips shippers with our transportation management system (TMS), innovative software that empowers companies to maximize productivity and streamline operations in one easy-to-use shipping platform. This cloud-based interface allows shippers to rate and shop carriers across multiple modes while optimizing routing and managing the shipment lifecycle from creation through delivery.

Are you ready to work with an industry-leading 3PL partner with expertise in refrigerated freight services? Reach out for a consultation today!