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Running on Ice: May flowers have arrived

Hello, and welcome to the coolest community in freight! Here you’ll find the latest information on warehouse news, tech developments and all things reefer madness-related. I’m your controller of the thermostat, Mary O’Connell. Thanks for having me!

All thawed out

(Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

It’s that time of year when Sunday brunch dreams are dashed with hourlong waits as families flock to restaurants on behalf of mothers. Mother’s Day is this weekend, so best to avoid the floral department of the grocery store Saturday night and Sunday morning. The flower industry is gearing up for a long weekend as refrigerated trucks and planes fly from Miami International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport to the rest of the country. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has inspected more than 1 billion stems of cut flowers from all over the world. So far this year the agency has intercepted more than 1,500 significant pests that were coming into the country. Colombia remains the main source of flowers imported to the U.S., with more than 650 million stems primarily coming through Miami.

Mother’s Day is the second-highest day for floral demand, with 26% of all floral purchases across all the holidays. Following Valentine’s Day (30%), it is tied with and Christmas/Hanukkah. The most popular flowers for Mother’s Day are roses, carnations, lilies and tulips. Total estimated spending for Mother’s Day last year was $28.1 billion. That is expected to climb to $36 billion this year.

Temperature checks

(Photo: Aurora)

The latest in autonomous technology has moved into the refrigerated trucking space. Aurora Innovation, an autonomous truck service, has partnered with Hirschbach Motor Lines, everyone’s favorite refrigerated carrier, to test autonomous trucking between Dallas and Houston. Aurora has built a next-generation terminal in Dallas that serves as a fueling stop and maintenance shop and even has special areas designed for autonomous trucks.

Aurora Innovation has said, “Refrigerated autonomous trucks capable of operating at nearly all hours of the day have the potential to move goods in record time, increase the shelf life of fresh produce, drive down the costs of goods for consumers and ultimately lead to fresher food and less waste.”

Also in the world of autonomous partnerships, Torc Robotics, announced a partnership with C.R. England, everyone else’s favorite temperature-controlled carrier. Torc is utilizing SAE Level 4 automation for this partnership, which basically means the autonomous technology is truly driving the truck and will not ask a driver to take over at any point.

The end goal of the partnership is to have autonomous trucks take over the long-haul refrigerated freight. Road tests are expected to begin this summer. This is the second partnership Torc has made with a carrier, the first being Foretellix. 

Food and drugs

(Image: Kraft Heinz) 

The makers of world-famous ketchup have moved into the frozen aisle — again. This time Kraft Heinz is expanding the frozen food offering with a new product, Home Bake 425/30. This line of frozen food has an entree, side and veggie dish that can be mixed and matched and baked for 30 minutes all at the same time, creating no additional dishes to wash. It’s a dream for the 30-minute-or-less-dinner people.

The current menu offering gives consumers more than 500 possible menu combinations; those who want to try it all better settle in for the long haul. Some of the mains are chicken parmesan, chipotle chicken, pulled pork and meatballs. Sides can include the classic mac and cheese, cheesy rice, and scalloped potatoes. Veggies round out the meal with Italian-style cauliflower, cheesy broccoli, green bean casserole and teriyaki vegetables. The opportunities are limitless.

According to Kraft Heinz’s press release, “61% of Americans prefer a homemade dinner each night, but more than one-third of them are dissatisfied with the end product, resulting in over 3.7 billion home-cooked dinners a year that miss the mark. Meanwhile, consumers are busier than ever, making meal prep that much more difficult despite a continued desire for food that tastes like homemade.” These products are in some markets now but are expected to be more widely available toward the end of 2023.

Cold chain lanes


This week’s market is none other than Dallas. The Reefer Outbound Tender Reject Index has fallen 278 basis points week over week, bringing spot rates back in alignment with contract rates for the Dallas market. Outbound tender volumes have started to creep up as produce season gets into full swing. Overall conditions should be loosening in Dallas and capacity should be easier to secure as outbound tender lead times don’t need to be as strongly considered. Given the uptick in rejections and volumes at the end of April and the beginning of May, watch Dallas closely to stay ahead of any market changes. 

Is SONAR for you? Check it out with a demo!

Shelf life

Peterbilt unveils its Model 589 truck

ZIM invests in door sensor technology for reefers

Analyzing the “sub-zero hero” — The frozen food market

Dollar General boosts supply chain with new DCs

Wanna chat in the cooler? Shoot me an email with comments, questions or story ideas at [email protected]

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