The Basics of the Food Supply Chain


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"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him. The people who give you their food give you their heart." -Cesar Chavez

A normal supply chain can have a lot of intricacies. When it comes to food transportation, the stakes are higher. Some major grocery stores have even begun to penalize late or missed deliveries because of the essential time constraints placed on food products. There are so many different factors to consider when transporting foods:

Specific Temperature Parameters

Sanitation Requirements

Specific Placement Restrictions (some foods can’t go with others)

Proper Documentation (to prove regulation compliance)

Specific Time Constraints

Other Food Safety Laws

Some Necessities

Planning - Since shipping food requires extensive planning and following of all guidelines and regulations, it’s important to make sure that the 3PL being used is transparent and has the technology necessary for complete visibility on all fronts.

Load Building - It’s also very important that the loads that are built are following all protocols. Therefore, from warehousing to the last mile, it’s essential to have a clearly planned out load building process. This helps with consistency as well. Make sure there’s an expert team involved whenever food is the supply chain subject.

Different Equipment - As the demand increases, so does the distribution pace. This means different types of equipment may need to be utilized to keep up. Some companies are creating completely separate supply chain processes for different products in a store. This totally changes the warehousing and transportation needs, and gives new demands for equipment and workers. If any of the numerous food-specific requirements aren’t met, it can completely destroy a business and a carrier’s reputation, not to mention it can contaminate the foods that are going to be consumed.

Cleaning – The trucking industry can seem pretty unsanitary at times, but this cannot be the case when it comes to food transportation. The FDA has established certain laws to protect foods from being adulterated. Make sure your carriers have sanitizing records on file for every load delivered, and are following all laws established by FMSA.

Fluctuations – Volumes spike and drop for groceries based on a variety of reasons (like a pandemic). The locations can also change, based on the weather (tornadoes or hurricanes), or agricultural circumstances. This means the 3PL needs to have a large capacity ready to go at any time.

The safety of the food that is eaten by everyone around the world is on the line. A properly executed supply chain in the food sector can yield tremendous benefits. Make sure the 3PL you use has an expert team that goes above and beyond!