Until a few weeks ago, it was common to use passenger airlines to transport higher value produce all over the globe. “In this new world, we need to be creative and have to find different ways to make things happen,” says Thierry Delapre with A.M.S. Export out of Southern California. Since passenger airlines only incidentally fly to repatriate citizens to their home countries while Mother Nature continues growing beautiful product, companies are becoming creative in getting their produce to market.
For the first time ever, A.M.S. Export shipped green asparagus with a United Airlines Special Freighter flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia last week. “We worked with our Los Angeles based freight forwarder and they arranged a charter flight for us,” said Delapre. “Although it is a great temporary solution, we can’t wait for the passenger airlines to be back in business. They fly daily and on a reliable schedule while freighters do business in a very different way. They go around the world without having a schedule. Sometimes they come as agreed, sometimes they don’t’.”
Twice as expensive
Another reason Delapre is hoping this situation won’t last too long, is because of the added cost. “We paid twice as much compared to using a passenger airline,” he said. “Although the client agreed to pay more and it is a good temporary solution, it’s not sustainable to do this forever. The price point at the retail level would become too high, causing demand to fall.”
From Los Angeles, the charter plane went straight to Sydney and the product arrived in great condition. The Mexico-grown green asparagus was a special pack for customer White Prince, located in Sydney. From their warehouse, the asparagus will mainly be distributed to Coles Supermarkets and Aldi. Total shipping volume amounted to 720 cases of 5 kilogram each.
A.M.S. Export currently doesn’t have any other charter flights scheduled. “April is a slower month for exports since we are in-between seasons,” shared Delapre. “We are waiting for crops to come in season and by May 1, there will be lots of activity around California cherries and other stone fruit as well as a new crop Mexican asparagus. We don’t know how long this situation will last, but it is very likely we will be using more charter planes soon.”