The Future of Food Logistics

Production, transportation, warehousing and fulfillment of food and beverages achieve a new pinnacle in sustainability, efficiency and safety.


There is a common thread that runs through the following profiles in this year’s final cover story. The founders and current leadership of Hess Collection Winery, California Natural Products, and Goya Foods share a commitment to the land, culture and tradition, which in turn guides their supply chains in the areas of sustainability, innovation, food safety, and customer satisfaction. In their own way, each company is firmly rooted in history, yet breaking new ground in their respective sectors and building collaborative relationships with their transportation and technology partners to establish new thresholds for how The Future of Food Logistics is evolving.

 

Hess Collection Winery & UPS

During a business trip to California’s Napa Valley in the 1970’s, Donald Hess, a ninth-generation Swiss brew master, was drawn to a particular area, the Mount Veeder Appellation, known for its mountainous terrain, volcanic soil and distinct microclimates.

In 1978, Hess began purchasing hundreds of acres of established vineyards and created the Hess Collection Winery on a site whose winemaking history goes back to the 1860s. Part of his purchase included over 600 acres set aside as undeveloped land to support wildlife corridors, fish friendly farming practices and biodiversity.

Today, the winery produces wine in Napa Valley as well as other global locations—two in Argentina, one in South Africa, and one in Australia—explains Bill Smith, the winery’s compliance manager who also oversees consumer direct shipping.

Despite the modern shipping methods that facilitate wine transportation around the world, the direct-to-consumer part of most winery’s business typically slows to a crawl during the summer months in North America due to the risks of heat and the damage it can impose on wine.

“Four to five years ago, holding direct-to-consumer wine shipments until October was the trend,” says Smith. This resulted in more than delayed satisfaction on the consumers’ part, it cascaded throughout the operation, says Smith.

Holding direct-to-consumer shipments, which usually range from one bottle to one case, take up valuable space at the winery during busy summer months. It also affects financial and accounting operations. Once October hits and the wine is ready for shipment, the winery is then tasked with labeling thousands of small package shipments and coordinating a spike in large truck movements in and out of its facilities to get the wine on its way to consumers.

Until recently, next-day air was the only viable alternative for safely shipping wine in the summer, but it is a very expensive option, Smith notes.

Two years ago, UPS launched its Summer Solutions program targeting direct-to-consumer shipments.

“There was a fair amount of skepticism at first because there was nothing like it,” recalls Chuck Eisen, an account manager with UPS who has worked in the Napa Valley for 15 years. Nevertheless, the program, which has doubled in size each year since its debut and is on track for continued expansion, has proved a hit with wineries and their customers.

UPS’ Summer Solutions is available in all the major wine regions of Northern California, says Eisen, from Monterrey County to Lake County up north, and from San Francisco east to Sacramento.

The success of the program, both from the aspect of shipping ease and affordability, is that it operates on UPS’ existing network with last-mile delivery performed by the company’s iconic brown trucks, says Eisen. Maintaining the ideal temperature of the wine during the bulk of the transportation is what differentiates the Summer Solutions program from standard shipments, however.

For starters, wine shipments are picked up from wineries then loaded in the evening onto temperature-controlled containers at UPS’ North Bay hub in Richmond, Calif. The temperature-controlled containers are moved by rail to one of four UPS distribution centers around the U.S., either Mesquite, Texas; Chicago; Parsippany, N.J. or Jacksonville, Fla.

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