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4 Ways to Make Perishable LTL Shipments Easier on Your Supply Chain

Turn Your Perishable LTL from “Necessary Evil” to “Supply Chain Enabler”.Transportfolio


Every day, we talk to shippers and retailers about shipping produce and other perishable commodities in Frankly, most see these shipments as a painful, yet necessary evil that they must to do sell their products. But this doesn’t have to be the case. I’ve found that customers who shift their perishable LTL thought processes from transactional to planned discover eye-opening improvements throughout their supply chain.

The evolution of perishable LTL from inconvenient to enabling

Today’s supply chains are changing—they are becoming increasingly complex. There are many reasons behind this, but consumer buying influences and multi-channel sales seem to be driving the most change.

Millennials are also influencing supply chains because their buying behavior is highly based on brand, health, and convenience. Now, we’re seeing healthier, more convenient perishable products sold through new channels, which is driving average order size down, frequency of delivery up, and putting greater scrutiny on supply chains.

In traditional fresh supply chains, the average order size was larger and offered greater flexibility from a delivery perspective. With that, rolling consolidation methods proved to be a successful way to execute perishable LTL deliveries. A shipper could either self-consolidate across multiple orders to make the necessary deliveries, or hire a transportation provider to consolidate across multiple shippers. Perishable LTL transportation was typically viewed as an independent variable in the supply chain, only enabling one component of the supply chain (as shown in the image below).


Traditional LTL transportation methods tend to require delivery flexibility, but with very small order sizes, this can result in erratic ordering behavior. Order quantities will vary a great deal from one order to the next and volume and frequency can be unpredictable, which can also have direct impact on freight spend.

Shippers may have a difficult time forecasting how much product or inbound materials are needed, transportation providers lose the ability to consolidate with consistent volume, customers receive less consistency in service, and consumers don’t know why their favorite product isn’t on the shelf.

4 ways to ease the burden of perishable LTL shipments

Luckily, perishable LTL transportation does not need to operate this way. How can shippers make moving fresh LTL freight as easy as possible on their supply chains? Let’s look at four strategies:

  1. Analyze LTL volume: Analyze and leverage all of your LTL volumes, not just what is viewed as “painful.” This will give you a full picture of what needs to be shipped, when, and to where, helping you to create optimized route plans.
  2. Create a planned environment: Utilize forward distribution and traditional rolling consolidation where applicable—with aligned sailing schedules and capacity strategies.
  3. Aggregate volume: Aggregate volume from origin region(s) into destination regions. This will help your shipments move more efficiently and eliminate waste.
  4. Utilize consolidation points: Use for forward distribution, all on a regular cadence. These allow for disparate shipments to be combined together for greater transportation efficiency.

As you can see below, with the right model to support your perishable LTL orders, you can achieve greater efficiency across your entire supply chain. The net result is an enabled supply chain offering a way to manage freight spend, change, and risk, all while improving efficiency.


Ultimately, results can vary by situation. But I’ve seen many companies make a similar transformation, creating a more efficient supply chain, and allowing them to do what they do best—selling and marketing their great products.

Learn more about optimizing your perishable LTL supply chain by speaking with an experienced C.H. Robinson expert today!


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