Selecting the Right Freight Carrier Ensures Brand Integrity for Shippers of Perishable Goods

Posted by Jeff Miller

Select Carriers’ goal as a freight sales agency is to ensure a customer’s needs are met by selecting a freight carrier that promotes brand integrity, particularly when perishable goods are involved.  It is critical for today’s modern transportation managers to ensure they protect their branded products as they move through the supply chain.

Temp-controlled carriers play a vital role in protecting the integrity of the cold chain. They are the last line of defense against adulteration and/or possible contamination of any products while in route to your customer. It is vital that the carriers that you are entrusting your shipments to are adhering to industry best practices. These include:

  • First and foremost, spec’ing the proper equipment, including telematics, to maintain and monitor the cold chain in protecting the products that are being transported your carrier partners.
  • Knowing how to properly operate and maintain that equipment is equally important.
  • A robust training regimen for transporting perishable food products as a standard operating procedure.  In fact, it is mandated by the U.S. Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA) as well as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The training programs should include all personal at the carrier whose duties are integral to adhering to these rules. That would include carriers’ operations management teams, maintenance techs, driver training managers and, perhaps most importantly, the drivers.

As you can imagine, significant resources must be employed to develop and manage all of the FSMA requirements. It should be engrained in the company culture and be part of every temp-controlled carriers’ mantra and practiced 24/7/365. We, as an industry, must be 100% committed to food safety. In the case of adulteration of our food supply, one incident, considering the potential consequences, is one too many.

Assuring your Customers

So, the question becomes, as a food shipper, how do I wrap my head around all of this and further, how do I ensure that the carriers that I’ve selected are upholding their responsibility? Is requiring a carrier to sign an addendum to your carrier contract sufficient to ensure they are maintaining the required protocols and programs to remain compliant with FSMA?

At Select Carriers we provide business development and sales management services to over 30 refrigerated asset-based carriers. As part of our initial onboarding process and as an ongoing part of doing business, we partner with carriers that employ the industry best practices relative to FSMA compliance. By doing so, we are extremely confident that we can present a qualified, highly competent and compliant carrier to our perishable shippers.

Select Carriers has been proud members of the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA) for many years. IRTA is one of the industry associations that fall under the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA). After many years of research and yeoman’s work, IRTA has published the Refrigerated Transportation Best Practices Guide. The guide spells out industry best practices concerning

  • cleaning,
  • inspection,
  • maintenance,
  • loading and unloading of, and operation of vehicles and transportation equipment.

Out of the guide grew the desire to create a certification program designed to ensure carriers are adhering to best practices that meet or exceed the FSMA/SFTA rules.

GCCA’s  Certified Cold Carrier™ program launched in mid-2019. The initial pilot participants were recognized at the Global Cold Chain Expo, held at McCormick Place in Chicago in June of last year. Following the initial rollout, the program continues to grow with additional carriers achieving the certification. There are currently four carriers out of the Select Carriers’ stable that have successfully completed the certification process. Select Carriers recognizes these partners and is working in conjunction with those carriers’ sales and marketing teams to get the word out to both existing shippers as well as potential new customers.

Let’s Talk!

As a shipper of perishable food and beverage products, we welcome the opportunity to engage in a conversation to introduce you to our carrier network. If your organization places the highest priority on food safety and employing FSMA compliant carriers, the Certified Cold Carrier program adds another layer of confidence – and documentation – that those carriers are doing their utmost to ensure the safety and sanitation of your perishable shipments, thereby further protecting your brand.

Please contact me at 570-905-0956 to learn more about Select Carriers’ business model and how we may be able to assist in leveraging some of our carrier’s available capacity within your network.

About the author: Jeff Miller, VP of Sales & Marketing at Select Carriers, has extensive experience with transportation business development and is currently serving his second term as a member of the IRTA (International Refrigerated Transportation Association) Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeff.miller@selectcarriersinc.com .