Following the ensuing radio silence post a letter to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan challenging the crippling effect that extending the Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) will have on its business, global perishable cargo specialist Perishable Movements Ltd (PML) has taken the decision to move some of its operations out to Kent.
The forward-thinking company has invested around £3.5m in the purchase of a 100,000 square foot satellite site in Lympne, which represents a prime location for hauliers given its excellent proximity to the motorway network, Channel Tunnel and the ports (Dover and Folkestone). This will enable PML to provide its customers with the opportunity to capitalise on an alternative route in and out of Heathrow, representing a seamless, efficient freight forwarding service which does not attract the charges / penalties associated with using the roads within the Greater London area affected by the new LEZ standards.
The company plans to apply for remote HMRC / DEFRA approved Border Control Post (previously known as a Border Inspection Post (BIP) status to enable a faster transit of consignments out of the Port of Dover (which currently does not have a BCP). The move signals a significant industry development, enabling PML customers to avoid the excessive well documented delays associated with freight traffic in and out of Dover and therefore extend the shelf life of any temperature sensitive cargo (which represents PML’s core business), by up to 4 hours.
PML signed contracts on the new warehouse on 28th May 2021 and anticipates that once the necessary refurbishments have been undertaken, the 24/7 operation which will handle daily consignments of food – for packing, loading and unloading – will be up and running in 16 weeks. The business anticipates the new facility has the capacity to process 80-100 truck movements per day in its first phase of operation – which will focus on refrigerated goods only. This figure will increase during Phase 2 – which is likely to be in 18 months’ time – when ambient cargo will also be incorporated.
Sited at Lympne Distribution Park, PML’s latest venture comprises two impressive purpose-built cold stores, 14 dock levellers to enable safe and time efficient loading and offloading, expansive parking (for up to 60 trailers) and generous office space. The company plans to spend around £1m on refurbishments to bring the building up to its exacting standards and to ensure best practice in the handling of fruit, meat, fish and flowers. This will include the creation of dedicated inspection areas and offices for customers.
The satellite site is likely to attract favour with the local community, not just as a result of the 30+ office and warehouse jobs that will be created but also because of the positive impact PML’s operations will have on reducing delays on the roads within the area, caused by queuing freight traffic.
Commenting on the news, managing director Mike Parr said, “This is a massive step for PML and once again demonstrates our commitment to spearheading new initiatives which challenge the status quo. The new site is located just two miles from Junction 11 of the M20 and really couldn’t offer a more desirable location. In addition to proximity to the ports and Heathrow, we anticipate that haulage drivers will also appreciate the efficient and seamless service we will be able to deliver, enabling them to leave the trailer onsite while they take a rest break, as opposed to sitting in a queue worrying about the lengthy delays which could seriously impact on the condition of their perishable cargo. This will be a totally unique facility – there is nothing else that compares with it in the area – and we are excited to be the force behind such a major industry development.”
This week Logistics UK has voiced concern over new rules on lorry drivers parking in Kent laybys and the adverse affect this is having on driver welfare.
Mike Parr, Director at Perishable Movements Limited issued this statement earlier today:
“PML whole-heartedly supports the over-arching concerns of Logistics UK, regarding the banning of lorry parking for more than 45 minutes at a time in laybys across several areas of Kent, which effectively reduces the opportunity for drivers to take the legally required rest period.
No driver would opt for a layby as their first choice for a rest break, we’d always recommend drivers park up in a location which represents a safe and secure stopping point, preferably with easy access to suitable toilet and wash facilities and of course, a good meal. With such a significant shortage of HGV parking facilities in Kent, these drivers have limited options at the moment and while we appreciate Kent County Council don’t want to have lorries blocking laybys, surely more needs to be done to provide these drivers – who are the lifeline to maintaining essential food & drink as well as medical supplies to the UK – with a more fit for purpose parking solution?
As a leading player in the efficient transfer of perishable cargo we believe this is an important industry issue that needs addressing as a matter of urgency.
PML is currently working on a plan to resolve the problems in Kent.
This week, a major British fresh food distributor warned that fruit and vegetables are rotting in cold stores because of a major shortage of HGV drivers.
At Perishable Movements Limited, we’ve been following the story closely and are aware of concerns within the industry.
If your business is facing supply issues as a result of the shortage of HGV drivers then get in touch with our road transport team. We can talk through the problems that you’re facing and offer advice and solutions.
Tim O’Malley, managing director of Nationwide Produce PLC is one of the biggest companies supplying fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and restaurants across Britain.
He has warned that perfectly good food is being left to rot as there are not enough truck drivers to transport produce across the country.
The firm, which had a turnover of £144 million in 2018/19, imported 61 per cent of its products from outside the UK.
In an article in the Fresh Produce Journal, Mr O’Malley has warned that his industry has been hit by Brexit, Covid-19 and changes to the tax system of HGV agency drivers.
Mr O’Malley wrote: ‘The acute shortage of HGV drivers is now the direct cause of perfectly good, graded and packed fresh produce being dumped or left rotting in cold stores, waiting for wheels to go under it. Supermarket shelves and restaurant plates are going empty, and this is now a crisis of national importance.’
He said hauliers have been forced to call their customers to warn them that due to a shortage of drivers they are unable to deliver their produce, leaving them with little notice.
He said one major supermarket could not get 22 full loads of produce delivered over last weekend.
Mr O’Malley said he has had an excellent relationship with his main haulier for many years and said the industry has been warning about the impending shortages for many years.
He said Britain has been reliant on large numbers of EU drivers who have returned to their home countries instead of remaining in the UK.
Worse still for the industry, truck drivers are not included on the Government’s list of skilled labour so new arrivals will need immigration paperwork which makes the UK less attractive.
Also, Covid-19 has seen no new British truck drivers trained within the past 12 months.
He also said changes in the rules of self employment have seen a 25 increase in agency driver charges, which has a further impact on the cost of a delivery.
Mr O’Malley said British truck drivers are getting older on average, with 13 per cent over 60 compared with one per cent under 25.
He said the government has to change the tax rules and add foreign drivers to the skilled migrant list to help avert a crisis.
He added: ‘If not that, perhaps a spike in fresh produce prices as the industry is forced to pass on the huge increase in all labour costs to the consumer.’
Mr O’Malley warned the entire industry was facing crisis and the government needed to take immediate action to avoid having empty supermarket shelves.
The shortfall of 70,000 HGV drivers in the UK has already seen wages shoot up by 20 per cent and consumers are now being warned that grocery prices could rocket to pay for the drivers’ increased pay.
The shortage of lorry drivers has been fuelled by EU workers going back to the continent during the pandemic.
The introduction of the IR35 rules in April, which ensures agency drivers pay broadly the same Income Tax and National Insurance contributions as individuals who are directly employed, has also pushed wages up by £2 an hour per driver.
Asset Alliance Group CEO Willie Paterson said he is growing increasingly concerned by the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.
He said: ‘Truck drivers were rightly hailed as national heroes for helping to keep the UK moving throughout this Covid-19 pandemic – and yet the industry’s pleas for help in addressing the growing driver shortage continue to go ignored.
#The lack of skilled HGV drivers – estimated to be about 76,000 – isn’t just a problem for the sector, but the wider economy too, with potential to cause huge disruption to supply chains and the country’s coronavirus recovery.
‘Whilst the recent increase in the funding limit for Large Goods Vehicle apprenticeships is welcome, it just doesn’t go far enough.
‘The government needs to take this issue seriously, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to make it easier – and more attractive – for new recruits to enter the profession, including resolving the driver test backlog, improving facilities and removing financial barriers such as high insurance and training costs.’
At Perishable Movements Limited we really care about the goods we deliver by air, by sea, and by road.
We understand what it takes to produce a world-class product. We take the time to listen from the grass roots up.
Graham Penny is Commercial Director at Randall Parker, a leading supplier of quality beef and lamb. He explains why Randall Parker chooses PML over other logistics and perishable goods transport companies.
“Everybody wants a story of provenance for the product that they’re buying. Consumers want to know that they’re buying produce that’s come from a sustainable source. They want to know that the farmers are caring for the land not just now, but for the future.
“They want to know that the meat that they’re buying has got full farm assurance and full traceability. When the lamb is ready PML sends the meat off and we rest easy knowing that the airfreight or the sea containers are going to arrive at their final destination on time and in the right condition.”
“There are no late night phone calls saying the product has missed an airplane slot or that there’s been a problem with the container because no one plugged it in. PML gives us total peace of mind with our logistics”.
About Randall Parker:
Randall Parker Foods is a leading supplier of quality lamb and beef. Our customers choose us for the best quality, provenance and service.
We work closely with our farmer suppliers and combine the state of the art technology with traditional butchery skill to deliver the best quality and best value products.
We supply quality lamb to major high street retailers, local butchers, food service and international markets.
Shipping fresh produce is a fast-paced industry because of the effort required to make deliveries within a short timeframe. Perishables are time and temperature sensitive products that require careful handling and shipment processes to preserve their freshness.
This supply chain journeys from farmers to packaging and shipping companies, then to wholesalers or retailers, and finally to the end consumer. The supply chain can be surprisingly long if you don’t buy local, and the goods still need to be fresh, despite the lengthy shipping process.
Here’s PML’s top 10 tips for companies to consider when shipping fresh produce.
Safety of produce in transit.
Although the concept of transporting produce looks simple on the face of it, there are many complications. Billions of pounds are lost due to food spoiling during the transportation process. Up to 33% of food can be lost or wasted and fresh produce can lose half of its shelf life in the shipping process.
Produce is sensitive freight due to individual shelf life timelines and the fragility of the items. When dealing with produce and other food items intended for consumption, there is no wiggle room when it comes to safety. Vehicles transporting food are required to adhere to strict standards, the goal being to prevent illness due to contaminated food. Vehicles must be clean and be able to be cleaned to prevent contamination plus produce must be kept at safe temperatures during transportation.
2. The importance of produce temperature
Timing and temperature are the crucial factors when handling fresh produce because it deteriorates with time, depending on the temperature of storage.
Most refrigerated, chilled and fresh produce is stored and transported at temperatures between -1.5 and +14 degrees Celsius, varying on product type. However, transport can be trickier for perishables such as flowers, fruit and vegetables and some countries may not accept frozen goods that have been off refrigeration for more than a specified time, regardless of temperatures achieved. That can result in wasted time, effort and ultimately, the loss of the produce. In all these cases, failure to meet requirements means a total commercial failure unless the goods can be diverted to a different destination where they will be accepted.
3. Produce Shelf Life
Not all produce is the same when it comes to shipping. The industry deems sensitive produce, with a short shelf life of a day or two, as light density. Next, produce that lasts 4 to 6 days is medium density. The heartier produce crops, those with a long shelf life in excess of a week, rank in the high-density category.
The logistics company selected to transport produce needs to know from the shipper exactly what the freight includes to ensure correct handling and timings.
Shippers are working against the clock to get produce to market so consumers can enjoy the goods at the peak of their freshness. The strict shelf life of produce is why shippers often prefer a dedicated trucking solution to ensure delivery. The longer it takes to get produce shipped after harvest, the higher the chances items will spoil before reaching the shelf.
4. Lifestyle trends
As shoppers select produce at their retailer, few are thinking about the industry and what it takes to ship fresh.
Consumers adopting healthier lifestyles often choose fresh produce. The trend at the moment is that freshness translates to healthy and the niche market of organic and plant-based foods is growing fast.T he push to find healthier food has translated into more produce shipments needing to be available to stay in step with the increasing demand.
5. Where the Produce Comes From
What fruit or vegetable crop is growing when and where is always a big question for those dealing with produce. The answer to that question determines what can ship when or how much stock is available. Shippers generally have a good handle on what crops are harvesting in which countries in order to keep supply moving into stores.
But for shippers, the bigger question to answer is how fast a crop of fresh produce can get from the field to market. There is often a very short window of time to make it happen.
Seasonal demands factor into shipment capacity, especially if a crop schedule is off by a few days or weeks. In most cases, a dedicated shipper will have flexibility to get everything done in time. However, this is not a guarantee, so shippers should not take it for granted. Good communication between the shipper and trucking company is a good way to gauge what is possible when things change.
Another challenge in shipping fresh produce is the distance from the point of origin to the final destination. According to the Logistics Bureau, fresh produce averages about half its shelf life on a truck. Therefore, produce with a short shelf life only has around a day of freshness remaining once it reaches the market. If all things are perfect, this is not a lot of time for consumers to maximise the freshness. However, it drives the point home about the urgency needed when it comes to shipping fresh produce.
6. The Demand for Fresh Produce
So where do consumers purchase fresh produce? The answer to that question includes grocery stores, fresh markets, specialty markets and the growing trend of meal kit services. Shoppers are particular about where they purchase their fresh fruits and vegetables. While supermarkets take the top spot for produce sales, specialty retailers who emphasis organic goods are quickly gaining popularity.
It is a matter of preference when it comes to shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. While some consumers want to touch and feel the produce they select, others rely on fresh selections arriving on their doorstep.
Regardless of the venue, fresh produce arrives at each site on a regular basis to keep up with the growing demand.
Traditional grocery stores typically display seasonal and locally grown produce prominently with additional bins stocked full of other produce staples. Likewise, the fresh produce sections at specialty markets are alive with the vibrant colours of the seasonal harvest. However, the two retailers may vary the quantity of produce on hand based on traffic. Shipping fresh produce to a large grocery store may involve several trucks making a delivery often within a week. In contrast, a smaller marketplace may schedule one delivery per week with limited amounts of certain items. In each case, the shipper is working closely with the stores to determine what produce is needed and how soon a truck can arrive to replenish the shelves.
The increase of meal kit delivery has also stretched the demand to ship fresh produce. The kits are popular with those who lack the time or desire to do the shopping but want to have a tasty meal. The kits include all the ingredients, right down to the fresh peppers, tomatoes or other items. Once picked, fresh produce needs to move quickly.
7. Multimodal transport
When transporting perishables, you have distinct choices between air, sea and road freight. Choice is often a matter of speed, cost and more importantly, the type of perishables you handle.
With fresh fish, the main logistics issues are in ensuring the expected journey times are consistent with product life and reducing time off from refrigeration. Problems are most likely to occur at export terminals and transit points, both for air and sea freight. For road transport, you need to factor in traffic congestion and customs delays.
Struggling with import and export issues? Get in touch with our team of experts for bespoke logistics advice:
Vegetables and fresh fruits pose many of the same problems as seafood and flowers. Refrigerated containers and prepackaging using ice and sometimes cold gas can extend shelf life, but the reality with many perishables is that presentation is also important to the end consumer. Excessive vibrations and gases can adversely affect these products in transit.
Proper planning and operating systems overcome these difficulties to some extent, but there is always a degree of uncertainty and producers should build in some margin for delays to the planning process. Think of the cold chain as a journey to be achieved, not just a destination.
8. Restaurant or Comsumer
Wholesale produce shippers fulfill daily orders for restaurants as well as general consumers.
Today, health-conscious diners are requesting more produce options on restaurant menus. The days of the kitchen just receiving a few boxes of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce or cucumbers for salads are gone. In order to guarantee the kitchen has enough produce available, chefs and restaurant owners are working to develop networks of locally sourced produce.
9. Packaging and storing
Next, transporters must select the best packaging for shipment. Fruits like apples, citrus, and pears that have hard skins are good for long travel because they are sturdy enough to handle it. Softer fruits like plums and peaches, on the other hand, have to be carefully packaged and handled carefully. When selecting packaging, transporters must also consider factors like how to protect produce from temperature changes.
Once the produce has been selected and packaged, it is ready to be loaded and shipped. Transporters must be conscious of what they are shipping; for example some fruits cannot be transported together. All fruits release a harmless gas called ethylene after being harvested, and each fruit releases the gas in different quantities. This gas causes certain fruits like tomatoes and peppers to ripen and spoil faster, so they must be kept separate from fruits that release the gas in large quantities.
Transporters must also consider where the cargo is going. Most countries restrict the transport of products across borders to prevent the spread of bacteria and plants that could damage their local ecosystems and thus have different rules and regulations for deliveries
10. Impact damages
Another common reason food is wasted before reaching the consumer is impact damages. Consumers do not want to purchase bruised or damaged produce, so if it gets damaged in the shipping process, it will never make it to the store.
Shocks and vibrations that occur during shipping can seriously damage the produce, and this is a big risk if the items are not packaged and loaded properly. In fact, if a transporter is over-burdened with produce to ship, they may load an excessive amount of pallets in one vehicle to cut costs, often resulting in damaged goods.
While the logistics of fresh produce are challenging and complex, monitoring each step of the process can ensure that the produce makes it to the end consumer safely and intact. Technology like data logging, and the cold chain process, make this possible and allow us to have the fruits and vegetables we enjoy on a daily basis.
Buying produce that’s proudly made in Britain is great for the country’s economy and its farmers. It also reduces the carbon footprint that comes with importing fresh produce from overseas.
Although lamb is traditionally a spring meat and the #1 choice for an Easter Sunday roast, early-April isn’t actually the best time to buy british lamb. In fact, the majority of the lamb that we buy in supermarkets at Easter is imported from countries such as New Zealand to meet the demand.
Why? Sheep are naturally tuned to giving birth in early spring, once the frosty winter has passed and spring’s fresh grass is growing. ‘Lamb’ in the food sense refers to any sheep under a year old. The succulent ‘new-season lamb’ that we enjoy at Easter is generally four to six months old which means British newborn lamb is off the menu in April.
If we truly want to support British farmers and take a more sustainable approach to supply chain and perishables the ideal time to buy British lamb is in the summer months. In May and June lamb is at its most tender but as the season progresses the flavour develops.
In this case study Perishable Movements Limited (PML) visits Place Farm in Berkshire, this is where customer, Randall Parker rears its lambs. We explore how PML supports the UK’s perishable goods supply chain from field to fork.
PML has worked with Randall Parker for over three years collecting fresh produce from source and transporting it to PML’s Heathrow HQ for forward transportation both across the UK and abroad. The fresh produce is transported in PML’s custom fitted temperature controlled fleet of trucks to ensure that the meat remains in an unbroken cold chain. For products such as Halal lamb this seamless process from source is essential to ensure that the tight deadlines for transportation (halal lamb must arrive in the country of consumption within 72hours of being produced) are met. To ensure that the needs of the supply chain are met, PML run a 24/7/365 global transportation service.