Fresh Off the West Coast
The United States has been one of the world’s largest food exporters serving a wide range of markets in Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America. While food production originates from different regions in the country, the West Coast remains the gateway for its exports. Washington apples, Idaho potatoes, California citrus and grapes are only some examples of the top-quality products grown and exported by reefers from the West Coast.
We were joined by Andrew Miller – Senior Manager of Refrigerated Sales in a fascinating conversation about ZIM USA’s focus on perishable cargo in meeting the growing market demands of the past year.
High-Value Exports and Innovation
When transporting high value goods like medicine, produce, seafood, and dairy, extra attention is necessary in maintaining temperature throughout the journey. For ZIM, when we talk about temperature, we’re talking about ZIMonitor – our state-of-the-art refrigerated containers, accompanied with a tracking device and our global 24/7 service team, ensuring that all commodities arrive at their best condition.
California is a leading producer of high quality “superfoods”, which are known to have health benefits. Avocados and blueberries are among some of the sensitive high-antioxidant products loaded into ZIMonitor and exported from California to Asia. Andrew explained how these innovative containers assisted in blueberry transportation from Seattle to Korea: “As the container arrived in Busan, the Korean Customs opened the door for inspection. Since the containers were filled with time-sensitive blueberries, we immediately received an alert and were able to send someone to fill nitrogen in the container for fruit preservation.”
Exploring new Export Horizons
ZIM has recently increased its market share of specialty products and chemicals. Since some chemicals require a 24/7 monitored environment, ZIMonitor makes for an ideal solution: “In the past, companies used to air-freight valuable products with strict quality-control standards, without having an accessible feature of measuring their temperature. With ZIMonitor, we have full visibility to a previous blind spot for valued market segments.”
ZIM has also seen a rise in new commodities that are sensitive to high heat such as leather goods and wine – for which, being able to maintain their temperature is essential. Following a well-thought-out investment, ZIM is today’s leading carrier holding the youngest fleet of reefer containers in the industry!
Challenges, Possibilities, and Opportunities
Having to balance annual frozen commodities with seasonal produce requires matching reefer supply to the growing market. To meet such volumes, ZIM is expanding its destinations and opening the US up to new markets around the world. “Having new services that cater to markets is very important for our customers, often letting them know about our wide range of options that reach markets they haven’t been to before.”
This year, global carriers were challenged with responding to operational conditions and new realities. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest on the West Coast but have recently faced massive congestion with an overflow of cargo volumes, challenging both carriers and customers. ZIM is always working to guide its customers through any challenge with creative solutions. “There’s no doubt that the last two years have presented some unique challenges with COVID-19 and the US West Coast congestion. While these challenges aren’t as predictable as normal times, they also provide us with the opportunity to differentiate ourselves in terms of how we handle these sensitive cargos in challenging times.”
A matter of dedication
In efforts to meet expected service quality and anticipated volumes, ZIM made it a priority to provide its customers with flexible solutions. First, by working closely with shippers to get the most up to date forecasts for the upcoming season and more importantly, expanding ZIM’s customer relationship and communication dynamic. With a perfect combination of relevant technical expertise and personalized customer service, ZIM’s reefer team is dedicated to taking every challenge as an opportunity.
As economies and demands constantly grow, the US market will continue to differentiate itself and provide a broad range of services for its loyal customers. As Andrew says: “You’re dealing with a very dedicated customer base, which is why it’s as important for us to have that same dedication and commitment to support them. That is something we continue to grow upon.”