5 Food and Beverage LTL Shipping Tips

If you’re looking for a reliable LTL carrier to ship your food and beverage products, there are a number of factors to consider. Here are the main things you need to know about choosing a carrier you can trust.

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On-time delivery

Food and beverage freight is time-sensitive by nature; many of these products are subject to spoilage. In addition, big box retailers and grocery warehouses have just-in-time deadlines and other imperative, time-sensitive requirements. It's important that you find an LTL carrier with the expertise, flexibility and network capacity to meet your needs.

And, since many food and beverage shipments are time-critical, you should choose a carrier that offers various options to schedule deliveries, such as day-definite guaranteed service, time-date-critical service and appointment service. These options come at a price — but, when you must meet a delivery window or you’ll incur a chargeback fee, it’s usually worth a little extra front-end cost.

The LTL carrier you choose should also offer easy pickup and return processes, with coordinated management of these activities. The carrier will schedule pickups to meet dock times and monitor your inbound LTL supply chain. The coordination of these activities is important to your overall freight flow, and also ensures that documentation requirements are met. Returns authorization provides an efficient way to manage customer and vendor returns, generate valuable reporting and maintain visibility into the returns process.

Some LTL carriers, like XPO, offer the option of a dedicated representative to coordinate these activities for you. Having a single point of contact is an excellent way for you to stay on top of shipment status. Your point of contact will get to know your business as if it was their own, and work to resolve any issues that could impact your supply chain.

Shipment monitoring

It’s unproductive to spend your time worrying whether your LTL shipments are moving on schedule; you’ll get more peace of mind by choosing a carrier that offers proactive shipment monitoring. With your freight monitored from end-to-end during transit, and timely notifications, you’ll be able to resolve any issues before they impact your customer or your supply chain. Email notifications and appointment monitoring can help keep your freight moving in the LTL industry.

Staying a step ahead with proactive issue resolution may save you time and money, and when food and beverages are involved, rapid issue resolution can make the difference between product integrity and product damage. Here again, some LTL carriers, like XPO, offer the option of a single point of contact who will be dedicated to monitoring your shipments and assisting with issue resolution. Be sure to ask about this valuable service.

Special handling services

Shipments in the food and beverage industry can be unique. You might need special handling services to ensure the safety and integrity of your freight. This can include liftgate service for locations without a dock, inside delivery service for temperature-sensitive products, and extra labor for sorting and segregating goods into individual shipments.

These optional services should be added to the bill of lading and the pickup request. They’re an important consideration for food and beverage products to protect them during pickup and delivery and transit. LTL carriers provide these services to compete for business and forge relationships with their customers through an enhanced service offering.

Trained service team

When considering an LTL carrier to transport your food and beverage freight, you’ll want to consider whether the carrier’s drivers and dockworkers have been trained on your product types. Food and beverage shipments cannot be comingled with conflicting substances, such as hazardous materials. Drivers and dockworkers must be informed of placarding and other labeling to ensure proper handling and stowage. In addition, the carrier should have safety and compliance protocols in place to maintain product integrity. In the event of a spill or other exception, the carrier’s staff must be pre-trained to respond safely and quickly. This is crucial to avoid contamination of surrounding freight on the dock or in the trailer.

Choose to ship with confidence

Choose an LTL carrier you can feel confident about every time you ship your food and beverage products — one you can rely on to meet just-in-time appointments and minimize penalties and fees. Once you identify the right carrier for your needs, you’ll know that your shipments are being handled with care. At XPO, we have the network coverage, capacity and trained staff to handle all of your food and beverage freight, and our customizable solutions let you create a personalized service model for your inbound and outbound LTL shipments. Learn more about XPO by visiting xpo.com.