Logistics has always been a very important part of the fresh produce supply chain, in the last 18 months however it has become very challenging and a critical factor for importers and exporters. They have not only had to contend with new complicated regulations and paperwork since Brexit came into play, they have also had to keep the supply chains running during a worldwide pandemic.
Gautier Descamps Commercial Director at logistics, transport and distribution company Conhexa said that the company has seen a big increase in demand for their services since Brexit. “We have had to develop new services to accommodate customers and help them keep supply up to their customers. We are well positioned in Dunkirk with a storage area of 28,000 m2 for fresh and dry products and a warehouse with a capacity for 21,000 pallets of frozen goods. We have just added a further 5000m2 of storage for dry and fresh products. We also have another site situated between Dunkirk and Lille with storage room for 11,000 pallets of frozen goods.”
50% of Conhexa’s business is in fresh produce, the produce can be unloaded from the vessels and brought directly to the warehouse, the company also offers a complete customs clearance service as well as full quality control carried out by their team of inspectors.
“We saw the need for additional storage space firstly because the space needed is highly dependent on the shipping companies because if they bring in new destinations it can have a huge impact on requirements. For example, if a liner decides to change route or add additional stops in countries such as Costa Rica or Columbia then then this can mean a big increase in fresh produce such as bananas or avocados. Secondly in the run up to Brexit and during the pandemic customers had to stockpile goods.”
In October the UK will introduce customs checks on all goods coming from Europe. Gautier says they are well set up for this, “The last thing we or any of our customers want is a truck stranded at the border over a lack of paperwork. Our location works really well for exporters to the UK, the goods can be brought from all over Europe to our warehouses and then we organise the transportation to the UK, meaning the individual trucks can stay in Europe. We similarly work for UK importers going from Dunkirk to the UK and back.”
Gautier says that during the pandemic they were prepared, or just lucky to be able to fulfil their obligations and services to customers. “We have a good set up in place, we did have to make some changes and introduce new procedures to limit how many people worked in the containers and such, but we kept going. We are a small company and have very good relationships with our customers. In March 2020 no one knew what was about to happen and how much demand for storage space would increase, we did fear that we might not have enough space to store everything for our customers but we were very proud to have been able to fill all of our customer’s orders.
“We are a family-owned company and this makes us very agile, if we have an issue or problem, we discuss it over a cup of coffee… the door is always open. Our staff is made up of long-term workers who know the business. We aim to be a reference point in the industry.”