As the weather starts to get warmer, the rise in temperatures not only signals the end of winter, but serves as a reminder to the North American truckload market that produce season is coming. Even if you’re not directly involved in shipping produce, this time of year still has a significant impact on trucking capacity, especially in light of factors like the OTR driver shortage and the approaching Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly affected by the volatile spot rates and spikes in shipping demand produce season generates annually. From the race to get these time-sensitive shipments to market to the struggles surrounding securing capacity, the ripple effect on national and regional markets is felt by most shippers whether they realize the cause of their pain or not. 

To be prepared, it’s important for SMB shippers to know what to expect in the coming months – and be ready. Here are a few of the steps you can take to prepare your shipping operations and to help mitigate produce season disruption.

Diversify Your Carrier Base

When the market is tight, one of the top ways to ensure you’re securing capacity without heavily sacrificing on service or price is to diversify your carrier base. Companies can use this valuable strategy to distribute their risk more widely by relying on a larger number of carrier partners. This can help you better navigate fluctuating market conditions brought on by produce seasonality.

It’s an approach that can be easier said than done, however, and adding carriers just for the sake of it will not be helpful. This is where having smaller-scale trucking companies on your side can come in handy. For example, 82% of all loads moved through Loadsmart’s board in March 2021 were hauled by carriers with 50 or fewer trucks — more than double their 40% share from April 2020. What’s more, nearly half of all freight (48%) moved through Loadsmart’s system in March 2021 was hauled by the industry’s smallest motor carriers, those with 10 or fewer trucks. That’s up from their 20% share from April 2020. 

Without the critical capacity these smaller trucking companies provided during one of the most disruptive periods the industry has seen, a difficult past year would have been even tougher for a lot of shippers. So, don’t forget to capitalize on this tactic as supply starts to tighten again.

Leverage Alternative Modes for Optimization

By leveraging alternative modes, including rail and LTL, shippers can optimize their shipments for cost, speed, and even sustainability. Rather than seeking out multiple quotes for FTL and rail options, SMBs can also save time by working with a digital freight technology leader offering the data and intelligence necessary to compare options and make the best routing decision instantly. 

Loadmart’s best-in-class mode optimization algorithms, for instance, recognized 30% of all FTL shipments qualified as suitable for rail. Switching FTL to intermodal has the potential to reduce both costs and carbon emissions significantly. 

Not sure how to find access to more carriers or to be sure what transportation mode meets your freights’ requirements during the busy produce season? You’re not alone. Loadsmart’s logistics experts are here to provide you with fast options and custom workflows catered to meet your goals.

About Loadsmart

We are industry veterans and data-scientists using innovative technology to fearlessly reinvent the future of freight. As the ‘nerds of logistics’, we seek intelligence in data to solve deep-rooted inefficiencies in the industry. We give shippers, brokers and carriers access to our data connections (linking supply and demand) and suite of award-winning solutions to strike the perfect balance of cost and service. We’re creating a more efficient and environmentally responsible way to move more with less. For more information, please visit: