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Driving out supply chain inefficiencies key to eliminating food waste

Citizens and governments alike have taken a special interest in sustainability and climate change over the past few years. Emerging regulations — coupled with pressure from consumers — have pushed companies across the transportation industry to clean up their act, with many issuing public sustainability pledges. While the most common measures involve switching from diesel to electric vehicles or eliminating empty miles, there are unique opportunities for companies in the produce space to take their efforts one step further.

Food takes up more space in U.S. landfills than any other substance, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, the U.S. discards about 80 billion pounds of food every year, an estimated 30%-40% of the nation’s food supply. 

Wasted food takes a serious toll on the environment. Unconsumed food leads to wasted water, energy and fuel, given the resources required to grow, process and transport it. The food itself also produces greenhouse gases while rotting in landfills, accounting for 11% of the world’s GHG emissions, according to the World Wildlife Fund. 

While consumers are directly responsible for the majority of food waste, data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations revealed that supply chain mishaps cause 40% of food waste in North America. That includes food that spoils in transit. 

In an effort to drive out the inefficiencies that cause transportation-related food waste, Trucker Tools has completed an integration of its platform with leading transportation management software provider Freightflow.

Freightflow is a cloud-based TMS built primarily for produce grower/shippers and brokers to manage the complex transportation needs of the perishable produce industry. Its software is currently used by grower/shippers, wholesalers and distributors, and produce-focused 3PLs to plan and execute timely transportation of goods to market while driving efficiencies and cost savings.

The Trucker Tools integration will provide Freightflow users with an even wider array of options, including trip planning, shipment visibility, predictive freight matching, automated booking and digital document management solutions.

“Millions of pounds of food is spoiled annually due to supply chain inefficiencies,” Trucker Tools CEO Kary Jablonski said. “There’s a saying that what gets measured gets managed; by providing real-time visibility, shippers can better understand their supply chain and where there are opportunities to improve their operations.”

More than 95% of Freightflow’s traffic moves via reefer. Trucker Tools’ reefer capacity network is one of its largest, according to Jablonski. Produce shippers facing a challenging market can use the platform to develop relationships with new reefer carriers to meet their needs during their busy season.

“Reliable, constantly updated in-transit visibility is critical for produce goods,” said Butch Peri, founder and chief executive of Freightflow.

The Trucker Tools app updates shipment location status as frequently as every five minutes. 

“That, combined with predictive freight matching and one-click booking, really helps our customers streamline workflows, respond faster to the carrier and reduce the overall time it takes to book and tender a load,” Peri continued. “That’s a significant benefit to all entities, the grower/shipper, wholesaler, distributor, 3PLs and carriers.”

Eliminating inefficiencies for folks across the produce supply chain does more than just cut down on food waste. These efforts also come with significant cost savings, both by reducing the amount of unusable goods and driving down transportation costs. These cost savings benefit folks across the food supply chain, but they are also passed down to consumers at the grocery store.

“The price of a head of lettuce or an apple at the grocery store doesn’t just reflect the labor and value created by our farmers; it includes all shipping and supply chain-related costs,” Jablonski said. “Anything shippers do to reduce their own costs will be passed on consumers in the shape of cost savings.”