It won't be the first time and certainly not the last; the plane assigned for your trade has been delayed. Bummerrr! As an importer of fruit and vegetables, you especially want to know: How long will the delay last? When will my pallets arrive? And you will think with concern: will the quality of the fruit and vegetables still be the same? Where do those delays come from and how can you avoid delays? We asked one of our airfreight agents.

Where do the delays come from?

The transport chain from ‘farm to fork’ is often long and because so many parties are involved, there are also various reasons that cause delays. Below we name a few:

  • One of the reasons is that too much trade has been accepted by the airline, causing a back log. I can hear you thinking: why does an airline take one extra trade and leave the fresh products behind? This is due to the relatively lower transport costs for the fruit and vegetable sector. Especially in this time of Corona, which means there is less air traffic, airlines are having a hard time financially and trade is being looked at more profitable business like medicines and machines. These parties are willing to pay more for the space on the plane and for that reason space is made and (part of) the fruit and vegetable trade remains at the airport.
  • Another possibility is damage to parts of an aircraft. Then there are three options: repair the plane, use another plane to fly to the destination or cancel the flight at all. Any option will cause delay. If the flight is cancelled, a number of airlines will postpone each flight, creating a snowball effect, which also delays the trade of every other flight. When another device is used, there may be less space available and trading may be delayed as a result.
  • If the trade is delivered too late, it will arrive at the aircraft too late and cannot be taken on board.
  • Human errors are often also made. Think of leaving a skid or taking too much trade when it won't fit. Airlines that are very reliable in terms of delays from experience; CargoLux and Singapore Airlines.

Fruits and vegetables versus medicines

Why do airlines still schedule fruit and vegetables at all if they can earn more from other items such as medicines? The reason for airlines to transport fruit and vegetables, despite low rates, is the continuity with which they place orders over the year.

Can we be informed sooner of delays?

There is often quite a bit of discussion about the provision of information about delays. In some cases, customers are even more aware than agents. This may be due to the time difference, but also to the lack of information or miscommunications from the airlines. Temperature loggers are sent along with orders where temperature plays an important role. You could already notice a delay from here, unfortunately no separate notifications are sent from here to report a delay.

How do we solve delays?

We hardly have any influence on the airlines and human errors, but what everyone in the the entire chain can do is, among other things:

  • Customers to place orders in time with BE Fresh
  • Meeting deadlines and communicating about the status
  • Arrival of trucks with the right temperature to load the cargo straight away
  • Send the correct documents.

In short, we all have to be sharp to avoid creating our own delay.