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Live shrimp: choosing a freight forwarder for sensitive cargo

autoreBy Steve Williamson 16 Dec 2016

Shipping live shrimp and other live seafood species is a complex task, especially when shipping internationally. Keeping seafood or other perishables alive and well for long voyage requires many things, and a trusted freight forwarder is paramount in that equation.

The demand in China for live shrimp and other species such as geoduck and crab, continues to climb ever higher. The trend, in turn, creates more opportunity for companies offering services in transporting perishables. Freight forwarders are working to keep up with demand, building hubs, adding to their fleets and increasing network relationships, but not all companies offer the same quality of service. 

Things to consider

Regardless of species, a seafood supplier needs a reliable transportation source to make sure their goods are showing up to the final destinations in good condition. Who is the customer going to blame if the product shows up a mess? Not the freight forwarder. 

It is the supplier’s responsibility to do their due diligence and make a sound choice in transportation services.  For live shrimp, often a brief 24 hour window is all you have before mortality rates skyrocket.

So, how do you know you are choosing the right freight forwarder for your needs?

If you are shipping perishable goods long distances, consider making a checklist that addresses the following points.

Experience

As mentioned, the industry — on-demand live shrimp and fresh shrimp — is booming, which has both positive and negative effects on suppliers. While freight forwarders’ networks grow in size and the transportation chain has ever increasing links, the market becomes crowded and the cacophony of voices vying for a supplier’s business is more difficult to make sense of. 

That’s where experience makes a difference. While the age of the company does not necessarily guarantee anything, the longer the company has been around, the more interconnected it will be and the less it will have to perform tricks for new business. 

Network

The more network nodes a freight forwarding company has to work with, the more flexibility and the higher the reliability it has. Especially when it comes to perishables, speed and efficiency are tantamount to the success of your business. 

A large network will mean your product will be set on a streamlined course and won’t spend any  unnecessary hours in transit. In addition, it will be easier to reroute your product if there is an emergency like stormy weather, border closures or worker strikes.

When you are narrowing down your shipping options, always make sure to check the routes by which a company ships and how many land, sea and airports there are through which they offer services.

Temperature control

If you are shipping perishables like live shrimp, maintaining low mortality rates requires careful temperature control for the entirety of its journey. A company that can guarantee temperature control is worth investigating further for your shipping needs. There is no point in trying your luck with a freight forwarder that can’t promise to monitor the temperature along its service chain.

Monitoring

The future is upon us and, to your business’ benefit, it means you can keep a watchful eye on your product during transport. The freight forwarder you choose should have step-by-step monitoring and dependable check-ins so that you can stay informed on where your product is and in what condition. 

Modern and reliable freight forwarding companies will have invested in technology and will provide supervision to ensure a continuous flow of information to its customers. 

Cost and payment

Cheaper does not necessarily equal better and discounted first time deals can often balloon once the fine print is applied. International shipping requires many resources so you should allot for that service in your budget. 

Instead of the lowest price, look for companies that offer accessible payment plans and have good customer service in the billing department. Rock bottom prices often mean you will be making up for that reduced rate (ie. higher live shrimp mortality rates) in other areas so beware of enticing discounts.

Customer support

A good freight forwarding company that is proud of its service will offer excellent customer support. It’s best to avoid those who take their time to answer emails or whose customer service department goes straight to an answering machine. This is often an indication of how organized the company is (or isn’t) and a reflection of the resources available.

Final thoughts

It is imperative that the logistics company you choose to work with offers a high degree of integrity in shipping your living product from country to country, especially as standards differ throughout the world. 

A company like Kuehne + Nagel, for example, checks the boxes laid out above. The logistics company has been around since the late 1800s and offers services in sea, air and land freight. Their reputation is build on experience, expertise and innovation and they are highly interconnected throughout the world. They also offer services for a variety of specialty items like live seafood with services like pre-cooling and re-icing.

At Gfresh, it’s crucial that our customers have access to reliable freight forwarders. Shipping live shrimp is as delicate as can be and the success of companies in the industry is interdependent upon each other.  


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Gfresh team