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Taking the Guesswork Out of Food & Beverage Shipping Costs with ShipperGuide

After two turbulent years, food and beverage producers are feeling the pinch in more ways than one. Unsteady supply, wildly fluctuating demand, harsher seasons, and more have dominated the industry.

You know how hard it is to get your food or beverage products out the door and on the shelves at the best of times—throw in soaring fuel costs and trucking shortages, and it’s little wonder food and beverage shippers are pulling their hair out. Finding reliable shipping is hard enough. Accurately predicting shipping costs is even more challenging. But for food and beverage shippers, doing just that is mission-critical.

The right access to data and metrics, a reliable source of real-time and historical information, and software that supports you in every stage of the shipping process can help you save money, budget accurately, and set your pricing with confidence. Here’s how.

Accurate Forecasts Are Crucial

It’s a long way from the farmer’s field or orchard to the supermarket shelf, and each milestone on the journey has its own cost challenges, and the people who buy your food and beverage product have their own demands.

Perishable goods require immediate and reliable shipping. Restaurants and fast food chains need reliable pricing and delivery schedules. Supermarket chains often need long lead times for pricing. So whether you’re shipping fresh produce or processed non-perishables, milk and juice, or bottled and canned sodas, the demands on your forecasting abilities are the same.

The margins in this industry are thin, and price setting is critical for companies to survive and thrive. That makes it all the more important to accurately, and confidently predict your shipping costs before the trucks start arriving at your loading bays.

Industry Upheaval Makes Life Harder for Shippers

Loadsmart analysis ahead of the fresh produce season in the Spring of 2021 found that carriers with less than 10 trucks doubled their market share from 20% of freight moved through Loadsmart’s system to 48% between April 2022 and March 2021.

This rapid increase in smaller carriers and owner-operators taking on loads makes it all the more difficult for shippers to collect and consolidate Request for Proposal (RFP) responses. This adds to the pain of trying to source an accurate, fair, and competitive price for your shipments because you need to gather more quotes from more places to make an informed decision.

This also makes it harder to gather historical data that is meaningful because you can’t compare apples to oranges – even if that is what you are trying to ship!

The volatility of pricing, the rapid expansion of carriers, and the deconsolidation of the industry have made life even more challenging for food and beverage producers as they struggle to fulfill orders on time.

Factors Affecting Shipping Rates in 2023

The shipping industry has still not bounced back from the turbulence of the pandemic. Staffing problems, supply chain hold-ups, shipping dock shutdowns and more have strained carriers and their ability to operate on time. It’s also caused trucking rates, and especially spot rates to spike.

Fuel costs have begun to settle down, but remain high, further adding to shipping rates. Spot rates nearly doubled in both cost and volatility during the past two years, and while the costs have come down, that volatility remains high.

Over the Road (OTR) shipping and Intermodal (rail and road) lanes are experiencing these challenges in different ways. Ongoing threats of industrial actions in the railways are causing concern for intermodal shipping costs too, and while this seems to have cooled for the moment, it’s something to keep an eye on as you plan shipping later in the year.

All these factors reinforce the value of a platform that helps food and beverage producers to analyze and optimize their shipping plans in one place.

Consolidate Procurement and Shipping Using Technology

Food or beverage shippers in particular need a versatile, agile system for finding carriers and shipping rates. The industry surfs a cyclical wave of production and distribution, but it’s one that’s riddled with pitfalls and hiccups.

You need the right data to plan for what’s to come, with the flexibility to help navigate the unexpected.

Dairy producer Cabot Creamery was struggling with the RFP and shipment quoting process before they turned to ShipperGuide. It was taking too long to send out emails, compile the quotes, and cross-reference all of this competing information to find the best option for their shipments. That made it hard to determine the best pricing with any certainty.

That changes when the company began to use the RFP module within ShipperGuide to organize its shipping. It consolidated and streamlined the process, and at the same time gave Cabot more control over shipment times, response times, and its carrier network, so they could begin to rely on accurate shipping forecasts.

Why Loadsmart is More Reliable

Loadsmart, and more specifically, ShipperGuide, has access to a wealth of historical and immediate data from all over the logistics industry.

The AI software embedded in systems like ShipperGuide links that data to advanced algorithms which give you historical & real-time reports on lanes and RFP’s you’ve executed. All this gives you the most accurate and up-to-date shipping costs.

This helps shoppers find the most efficient and effective lanes for your products, as well as analyze the performance of your carriers so you can plan and adjust for the future. You don’t need to guess if you really ended up with the best rate because you can always review and assess your own performance.

Using ShipperGuide to Get Accurate Shipping Costs

ShipperGuide puts all of your shipping controls in one convenient cloud-based platform where you can plan, procure, and execute your freight shipping. Shippers can use the platform to send out RFPs, gather responses, analyze those responses, and organize shipments all at once.

ShipperGuide is carrier agnostic, so you can send RFP invites to your existing carrier network, as well as the large list of curated freight carriers already part of the ShipperGuide network.

Food and beverage producers can review and rate the carriers they’ve used, assess the performance of those carriers alongside their cost, and also monitor and track shipments from within the system. Using these tools will help you price your food and beverage products with confidence and protect you from unforeseen shipping costs that eat into your bottom line, keeping profits on your plate where they belong.

Sign up today to find out more about how ShipperGuide can help you effectively create budgets and trustworthy forecasts.

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