Fresh Produce Trucking is something we tend to take for granted. Of course, fruits & vegetables have to get from the orchard and the farm to the packhouse; and, naturally, trucks are involved in delivering fresh produce to the distribution centres and stores.
It would be folly though to treat trucking as an afterthought. How produce is shifted on wheels along the supply chain has to be carefully considered as there are three critical factors related to Fresh Produce Trucking that could be the difference between a successful crop and an unmitigated disaster. These are physical condition, temperature & dehydration and load stability.
Fruits & vegetables are perishable. It is the unspoken goal of every grower to get his or her produce to the consumer in the best condition possible. This is just as well, as the consumer wishes to buy unblemished produce, free of pest and disease, with good taste and texture and - without any cuts, bruises or blemishes.
The trucks we use to transport produce along the supply chain should therefore be modern, with a suspension system that is appropriate for perishable food and with a layout and loading mechansim that does not compromise fresh produce quality.
Fruits & vegetables have different 'comfort zones' when it comes to temperature. That should not come as a surprise as produce is grown from Finland to Fiji. It is therefore fairy plausible that fruits & vegetables will also respond differently to temperatures they are kept in post-harvest, including transport. This is by now well understood and, typically, single crop truck loads are managed well within the required temperature range.
Composite loads;i.e., mixed produce loads being dispatched from a distribution centre to stores, do present a challenge in terms of temperature management, especially in the case of long distance deliveries.
The dehydration issue is a more basic one. Transporting fresh produce on flat bed trucks without any cover whatsoever is a very short sighted approach to post harvest management. This does not save money, it costs money.
Fresh produce trucking does not just require a decent truck with good suspensions and adequate temperature management but it is also dependent upon the load having been assembled and stowed correctly. It does not matter how well a crop was produced and cared for post-harvest, no one wants to pay for a collapsed load at arrival.