As the seasons begin changing, the popular activities of pumpkin and apple picking fill the weekends while enjoying seasonal drinks such as pumpkin ale and anticipating apple pie for the holiday season. With fresh produce, a variety of challenges can disrupt the supply chain including the growing season of a product. A reliable 3PL with global capabilities allows retailers to keep shelves stocked and continue building customer loyalty despite disruptions.
What’s the Hold Up?
Each year, more than $300 billion in business is lost as a result of supply chain disruption1. Everything from natural disasters to theft can influence the supply chain. For farmers growing popular seasonal produce, there is no certainty that weather conditions will cooperate to ensure a successful crop and delivery of product from farm to table.
For example, the Northeast region faced a challenging season for apples, peaches, and pumpkins. In winter of 2015-2016, the area saw unseasonably warm temperatures causing fruit to bloom early. In addition, a freeze and snowfall in early April 2016 destroyed the produce in bloom already. Some farmers in New Jersey have even allowed free apple picking this year for fruit that is better suited for baking and making apple sauce2. The annual New Jersey Peach Festival was canceled this year due to lack of available product.
Each ingredient in a product plays a key role and when a shortage occurs for a specific ingredient it influences the whole supply chain causing delays and new sourcing strategies. A pumpkin shortage in 2015 resulted in a limited supply of pumpkin pie filling available for the holiday baking season. Specific sugar pumpkins are used for harvesting this tasty ingredient. The limited availability of the sugar pumpkin crop was caused by heavy rain in the Illinois region during planting4. Brewers making popular pumpkin beers in 2016 are concerned for the pumpkin and squash shortage as it dominos into this season. Without the right pumpkin puree ingredients, the seasonal pumpkin ale supply chain can see delays.
Maneuvering Through Disruptions
As pumpkin-spiced beer sales fell almost 10 percent in 2015, beer brewers who anticipated the pumpkin shortage for 2016 and prepared are faring better this season than others5. Brewers working with a 3PL were able to easily navigate these challenges with flexible capacity and network scenario planning to keep their alcohol supply chain brewing. Utilizing a supply chain solutions provider that can anticipate disruptions and provide visibility through business intelligence and technology can limit the impact a disruption can have on the supply chain and sourcing product.
Companies should be prepared to adapt to the seasonal challenges. Shippers need to strategize both goods that they are exporting as well as the ingredients they are importing. A 3PL with flexibility and global reach can help in sourcing product from various regions when local sourcing is no longer an option. Utilizing various modes of transportation such as dedicated fleets and intermodal can provide the timely product needed for a positive impact on bottom lines and also ensure the product is distributed to consumers.
As urbanization, the shift of populations from rural areas to cities, has become a growing trend the need for an end-to-end supply chain provider has increased6. The once country living person is now living in a large city but still seeking the fresh produce of a country farm stand. A strategic provider with multi-modal transportation offerings allows the apples, pumpkins, and other fresh products to reach the city and consumers around the world.
Keep your supply chain moving and business growing with the proper supply chain management. No one wants to miss out on Grandma’s famous apple pie or that ice-cold pumpkin brew this season.