Food distribution through Freight Transportation Services is a complex system with multiple transportation modes contributing to the process. Different shipments may necessitate airplanes, barges, ocean-going ships, railcars, or trucks. Planes are usually used for valuable or perishable items, while international imports and exports move by barges and ocean-going vessels. Railcars are the second most common mode of transportation in the food supply chain, most often used for shipments more than 750 miles. Trucks are the most common method of food freight transportation services, handling most food shipments under 500 miles. Using a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) company that coordinates truck freight services is an incredibly flexible and time-efficient mode of transportation.
How do you Transport Food Safely?
Perishable food shipments need to be stored sanitarily, cold, and on the quickest route possible. The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) outlines best practices for freight transportation services dealing with food distribution. Under the FSMA, food transporters are required to implement a sanitary transport plan to guarantee that food shipments arrive uncontaminated, and as fresh as possible. Regulations for freight companies that offer food transportation services range from specifying proper equipment to use, regulating temperatures, and enforcing sanitation routines.
Biggest Challenges in Food Transportation
The two most important things to consider with freight transportation services moving food are temperature and timing. Packing food properly and clearly labeling temperature requirements on the packaging can eliminate the possibility of freight going bad during transit. Including specific notes like “Frozen” or “This Side Up” helps prevent miscommunication that could result in spoiled products or spills. Using well-insulated, sealed containers will ensure that you keep the heat out and the cold in. Food shipments need to be kept in a specific temperature range to avoid bacteria growth that will cause the food to spoil.
Minimizing the transit time between the farm and table ensures that the consumer is getting the best quality product possible. A shorter trip between supplier and consumer also decreases the chance of any product spoilage, maximizing the profits of a food shipment. Choosing the right Freight Transportation Services company can make all the difference in this process. An experienced 3PL company like East Coast Transportation has networks of trusted refrigeration carriers and can coordinate reliable and cost-efficient transportation within your delivery window.
How much Freight Transportation is Transporting Food?
Freight transportation via trucking is the most common method of food transportation, delivering 70.5% of food shipments. 17% is delivered by rail, 8% via ships, and 4.5% by airplane. It is estimated that if long-haul truckers stopped working, grocery stores would run out of food in 3 days. Given the limited shelf life of food, another shipment to restock shelves is never far away. With the flexibility and speed of freight transportation services, regular refrigerated truck shipments are the best way to keep fresh food stocked. These refrigerated trucks, or reefers for short, make up almost 23% of the truck-trailer market.
Transcontinental Food Transportation
The globalization of food production has broadened the selection of food in grocery stores today, making it possible to buy seasonal food year-round and import locally unavailable food. The U.S. itself exports and imports significant volumes of food every year. In 2018, the USDA reported that the U.S. exported $140 billion worth of agricultural products, which rose to $146 billion in 2020. Horticultural products, grains, feeds, and livestock products account for the most significant transcontinental food transportation.
U.S. agricultural freight transportation services imports and exports have doubled in the last 15 years. Advanced refrigeration processes and efficient freight transportation systems have played a big part in expanding the food trade. With this technology, farmers and food producers can expand their market and increase the variety of food available.
East Coast Transport Knows How to Ship Food
East Coast Transport has years of experience in freight transportation services tailored to food shipments. Get in touch with East Coast Transport today to explore the options of refrigerated truck shipments!