Seasonal Produce for Freight Brokers | Episode 236

Freight 360

March 22, 2024

Unlock the secrets of the produce industry with expert Jeff Lair from Blue Book Services as we slice into the utility of their “Know Your Commodity” tool. This episode is bursting with industry knowledge, from the competitive world of freight brokerage to the perennial charm of asparagus. Whether you’re a veteran in the logistics game or new to the fragrant fields of fresh produce, our conversation is packed with fresh perspectives and juicy details that will keep you engaged and informed.

Feel the excitement of the Players Championship as we recap Scottie Scheffler’s masterful victory, which parallels the strategic moves freight brokers must make to stay ahead in their field. Ben’s personal tales from the TQL trenches offer a glimpse into the hustle of securing year-round business, and together with Jeff, we navigate the shifting seasons of tomato availability, from Florida’s January start to the robust imports from Mexico. It’s a lesson in adaptability and knowing the terrain of your trade.

Finally, we plant ourselves firmly in the tangled logistics of asparagus, from its quirky effects on some consumers to the intricate considerations needed for its transportation. This episode isn’t just about the produce; it’s about building robust connections and understanding market dynamics to boost your business.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Speaker 1: 0:19

Alrighty, welcome back for another episode of the Freight 360 podcast. We got a great episode today with a special guest. We'll get to in just a second If you are new, as I always say. Well, you wouldn't know that if you're new, but check out all of our other content. We've got 236 total episodes now, along with a bunch of shorter form and real style videos on YouTube. We've got some blogs on the website. We've got a lot of downloadable content as well. Make sure to share us with your other friends in the industry. I know this is a lot of valuable training and educational content for folks in the industry. We love to do this. Continue to share us. Hit the subscribe, the like button, whatever you got to do to help the algorithm get us out to more people. We appreciate it. Check out While you're there, you'll see our Freight Broker Basics course. That'll teach you everything you need to know to get your brokerage off the ground. I want to welcome back Jeff Lair from Blue Book Services. Jeff, welcome back. How are you, sir?

Speaker 2: 1:25

Good to see you guys. Happy New Year and happy first quarter. We're wrapping that up here. I'm going to be on with another episode of the Freight360 podcast team.

Speaker 1: 1:36

We're talking a couple of commodities today. We'll get into tomatoes and asparagus. We'll get to that in a little bit. Wanted to welcome you back. If you guys are not subscribers of Blue Book's newsletter, Jeff, it's right on your homepage, right?

Speaker 2: 1:52

The subscription link is a good one Twice a day Right. Twice a day, morning and afternoon, Monday through Friday. It's just timely content on the fresh fruit and vegetable industry and the supply chain.

Speaker 1: 2:05

Yeah, definitely valuable. If you're in that space at all or looking to get into it free newsletter, check it out. We're going to talk a little bit about the Know your Commodity tool on the website as well, which will give you some basic information. You should highly encourage everyone. If you're in that space, look again to it. Check out a membership with Blue Book. Mybrokridge uses it. It's a really great tool for credit vetting and lead generation too. If you're just looking to connect with some growers and produce shippers out there, good stuff. Let's get a little sports recap here. Ben, you want to talk about the golf tournament last weekend because I missed the end of it, but it sounded like it was a pretty exciting one down in your neck of the woods.

Speaker 3: 2:46

It was pretty good it was going.

Speaker 1: 2:47

Was it in your?

Speaker 3: 2:48

Jacksonville right the course. Yeah, it's up in Ponte Verde, that's right. I am pulling up the specific results, right now, it was the player's championship.

Speaker 1: 2:59

It was the player's championship, I believe yeah player's championship.

Speaker 3: 3:02

So Scotty Schaeffler did win, right, but going into the final hole, and if anybody knows anything about the players, it's played at the same course every year. In fact, lots of people reference it as the greatest place to watch golf because there's literally stands there around the 17th and the 18th. The 17th is, I think it's the 17th.

Speaker 1: 3:22

I'm pretty sure it's part three that goes out over the water. I win green. You see a picture of it. You're like yep, I've seen that before.

Speaker 3: 3:28

Yeah, so everyone's seen that hole right. Yeah, so going into that hole, I think it was 16. There were two or three people that were tied. Yeah, it was Brian Hormann Clark and Zaynir Shafley.

Speaker 1: 3:42

Clark's the young kid right.

Speaker 3: 3:43

Yep, and yeah, wyndham Clark. So Scotty was in the clubhouse at 20 under and missed a birdie putt on 18 to be at 21, which would have arguably probably ended it, you know, even though there were a couple, three more guys to finish. But in the group after he finished I think there were two groups back or the one group back right. They were going into either just after 16 or 17,. All tied at 19 under. Scotty missed the birdie putt so he was 20 under. So the three people following the leader in were within one stroke.

Speaker 1: 4:15

Had a chance to force a playoff right.

Speaker 3: 4:16

Yeah, and on 16, Clark had an eagle putt that would have almost it would have tied him with Scotty and he missed it by like inches and it was like perfect speed pacing right at the hole would have tied it right to send it into a playoff. He misses that, birdie's it. That put him at 19. And then you had the final two or three coming in and again Clark had a putt to tie it on 18 to send it into a playoff and he lit the putt out and I saw pictures.

Speaker 1: 4:48

Dude, have you seen that video? That ball was like half of the ball.

Speaker 3: 4:52

More than half of the ball was underneath the lip of the cup in the still shot I saw after and it was like literally more than half the ball was in the cup and then it came literally all the way around the back and then sat in front of it.

Speaker 3: 5:05

So it like I mean it was as close to making a putt as you've ever seen, where it didn't go in to take the players into a playoff, like it was one of the best finishes I've seen and, like they call it, the fifth major. It's not a major but it's the next closest thing because every you know, top player in the world plays in it. So it was a great, you know, afternoon to kind of watch the tournament get wrapped up and Scottie Schuffler loved to see him win. I mean he's just a good person Like he's like wholesome, religious, family person. Like he is the polar opposite of the I-Ni-Mi mind golfer that only cares about themselves and money and all these things. So again, it's really great to see, I think, a good group of guys fight for it all the way to the end and it was a really great finish for, you know, after golf.

Speaker 1: 5:47

That's awesome, Jeff. What's going on in Chicago land in the sports arena Getting ready?

Speaker 2: 5:54

for the baseball, that's the big word. And then Justin Fields got shipped out, finally, and we got an NFL draft here in a couple couple of weeks. So you know it's, it's, it's all good, I'd say, for most most Cubs sports. Chicago fans are looking at a new stadium for the Bears.

Speaker 3: 6:16

We took your quarterback though.

Speaker 2: 6:18

Yeah, I know.

Speaker 1: 6:20

He's going to Pittsburgh.

Speaker 2: 6:22

He went to Pittsburgh and then that whole that's been like a soap opera. Anyway, that's finally over and Jerry Rhinestorff, the owner of the socks and also the Bulls, he's looking for a new stadium for the white socks. Anyway, there's always something sports related going on in Chicago.

Speaker 1: 6:41

Hey, I got to ask. So St Patty's Day was recently and I saw the pictures of the Green River Every year.

Speaker 2: 6:49

Every year. How do they do that? It's die, it's die. I mean they die the river.

Speaker 1: 6:56

So how long does it stay around for?

Speaker 2: 7:00

I don't know. That's a good question.

Speaker 1: 7:02

You always be pictures on on st Patty's day, but I'm wondering, like, does it fade out throughout the day, or is there so much died that it's there for like a couple days? It's pretty, it's cool to see, it's just wild.

Speaker 2: 7:13

Yeah, so that just happened earlier this week and big st Patty's day parade and all that good stuff over the weekend. So, yeah, there are people in recovery mode on that and yeah, so it's all good Gotcha so I'll shift to the bills real quick.

Speaker 1: 7:28

Bill's picked up wide receiver Curtis Samuel off of Washington, which I love. I love that ad. They got him three year 24 million dollars. So Josh down will have another receiver weapon after who's in Gabe Davis. And here's a here's a little controversy.

Speaker 1: 7:43

So the bills we we're also getting a new state of. It's being built right now, right across the street from the current stadium. So what they're doing there's less seats. There's like 10,000 less seats or something like that available in this new stadium. So they're going through season ticket holders, starting with, like your, your suites and clubs, and then down to your premium seats and then throughout you know all the seats in that in that order to give people Kind of like their pick of where they want to sit. But what they're doing is they created like a Stadium experience. They're calling it where they basically built. They built out this like miniature version of the stadium and they should take you through his virtual experience of what the new stadiums like and you have to go there and Experience through their experience Before they tell you what the the PSL cost is, that the seat license and what your seats will cut, like your tickets will cost you and just like your seats, you can't just like get the pricing and make the decision.

Speaker 1: 8:41

Online sales, baby sales, yeah so, and that's like they were like very transparent about. They're like, yeah, you know, we we want to make everyone go through this sales process so they understand why they're paying, what they're getting for, what they're paying for and so it. But it's very like the news went there last week before they started doing it and, like the news wasn't allowed to have any recording equipment. They couldn't share any details about it. So everyone going in there like it's happening right now. But there's there's all these rumors going around on social media about like costs and everything and people are saying that they're like a PSL could cost you like $30,000 or more for some of these like club seats and it's like that's they're. The big complaint is that they're pricing out like the middle-class Fan that's been going to the games for 30 plus years and replacing it with, like you know, corporations that want to buy out tickets and share with their customers and employees and stuff like that. So they did that.

Speaker 1: 9:36

I've. I didn't know much about the, the, the PSL, until it's really until the bills Came out with it.

Speaker 3: 9:43

So they did that at Heinz Field when they first opened after three rivers, and I remember when they went into like the lotteries and everything and the waiting line to get the licenses. If you would ask me and again, don't hold me to this I want to say they were on the low end 15 grand to like 35 grand, if I remember what people paid for seat licenses for.

Speaker 1: 10:05

I've seen them so like I think the Raiders stadium was one of the most recent ones that was new and they it looked like they had like you can get for a the I don't want to call them the bad seats, but like the lowest price seats, the PSL would be like maybe four thousand or something like that. But I've seen, like I think Dallas, some of their premium ones are like 25,000 each. Well, these are like 50 yard line club seats. You know what I mean. It's just why buying the right to Purchase a season ticket, which is like and you can sell those licenses so arguably.

Speaker 3: 10:46

I definitely have value and they do increase in value. Like it says, the Steelers seat licenses started 1250 per seat and 500 levels go Well, 12, 500, level 1250 all the way up to 4500 per seat is what the Steelers Waiting list looks like.

Speaker 1: 11:04

So way lower than I thought it was, gotcha well, we'll see what happens as more people go through it. But I was just, I was like shocked because I was thinking about Getting. See, it's gonna be another few years. But I was like, oh, maybe we'll get some seats my, my wife's family's got him right now so we could get to a handful of games a year. I was like maybe we'll just buy our own so we have every game. I was like I'm not paying like $20,000 per seat Just to buy season tickets.

Speaker 3: 11:33

Yeah, I kind of feel like if anybody would though it would be you. So that says a lot about the market. I'm like. I'm like if I were, if you were to ask me what you would have said. If somebody would ask me, I'd be like, ah Nate would cut that check in a heartbeat.

Speaker 1: 11:45

Maybe for less. Like the thing is with little kids right now it is like I will for sure I intend to have season tickets, but my kids are older and it's easier to get to games, but who knows? I mean, then you got to Buy, like buy off the third, the third party market, buy someone's PSL if they're willing to sell. I don't even know how that would work, but they're doing the whole scarcity fear like if you don't come in, your seats might not be available and oh, also, you have to decide while you're there. So you go to this experience and if you don't decide To buy, right then and there your seat is now available to somebody else.

Speaker 2: 12:26

So we're crazy. You have a date already.

Speaker 1: 12:30

No, I mean so my, my mother-in-law is going, I, probably in the next month. They're, they're very slowly rolling this out. So they're, I mean out of like I don't know how many season ticket holders are out, but let's say there's 20,000 or 25,000 each. Individual holders got to go through this experience over, I'm assuming, over like the next six months. So they're slowly doing it, but I don't know. We'll see when is the new stadium open 2026.

Speaker 1: 13:02

So they're going to have three more seasons at the current stadium and then they'll go wait. No, is that sound? Is that right? 26?, 24? No, maybe 27. I think we have three more seasons at um, I'm our stadium, and then it'll go across the street to the new one. So, yeah, anyway, that's all for sports. Anything else in the sports world?

Speaker 3: 13:25

No, it's jumping us some tomatoes. March madness is wrong March madness is wrong, yeah, march madness, March madness, Um funny step.

Speaker 1: 13:33

So everyone's been talking about like your brackets and the odds. They were saying on the news of filling out. The perfect bracket is one in like seven quadrillion or whatever. The number is so big slim to none, none yeah.

Speaker 1: 13:52

They were like it was like saying, like, pick a, pick a 600 year range of time and try to guess the exact minute, or something like that within that 600 year period. That's how, um, that's the odds of it, but who knows, we'll see. March madness. March madness is the most posted in the coming weeks, as that rolls out. Um, well, let's get into some produce stuff here. So, um, we'll start with. You want to do tomatoes? Yes, all right, let's go with some tomatoes. What's going on in the world of tomatoes?

Speaker 2: 14:24

Mr Larry, here we go. So we're trying to hit some specific commodities for the listeners on your side as far as the availability and shipping seasons of, in this episode, tomatoes, and they're also going to roll into asparagus. So you know tomato as, as I see it, is consumed by a lot of people in a lot of different venues, um, whether it's in your home, at your restaurants, um, you know, on your hamburger or hot dog, as we started into the baseball season here and even March madness, with concessions, at local venues across the United States that'll be selling a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers. But um, tomatoes is is a the second most produced grown uh vegetable in the United States, next to, next to potato.

Speaker 1: 15:19

So I was like that's potato. Had to be like off there at the top.

Speaker 2: 15:22

Yeah, I think about potato too, and everything that comes in with potatoes, from french fries, the big potatoes, to hash browns, to all those tasty potato. Uh. Variables as far as options to go with a potato, but tomatoes too.

Speaker 1: 15:40

So what? It is that our country is full of people that want to eat french fries and dip them in ketchup, right Potatoes and tomatoes.

Speaker 2: 15:46

You got it and go and go back to Heinz field. Even the ketchup with Heinz 57, right, so for sure, one of the hit some key areas in the United States where tomatoes are going to be be rolling here for for you as well as your listeners, and like you know, tomatoes have been been shipping out of Florida since January, so they're halfway through their season down there right now. I'm just going to wrap up in June and then it'll it'll move up the coast on the on the east side there. So Georgia, we're looking for tomatoes to be shipping in May through October, so pretty much the summer months, spring and summer months. California We've got also they're going to be kicking off in May. Georgia, Maryland is going to be rocketing June through September.

Speaker 2: 16:36

The Midwest plays a big role in tomato production July and October, so more the summer and the fall. New Jersey as well, when I grew up, the garden state, Texas, we got things rolling in May and June and then also we've got a lot of tomatoes. Three quarters of the of our U S import comes from Mexico. So Mexico is a year round producer of tomatoes, and our friends north of the border and beautiful Canada and they also produce a lot of tomatoes, especially year round, under the, under glass, in greenhouses. So those are some key areas for your listeners to be aware of as far as tomato volume, tomato opportunities to move those on loads, whether you're brokering or you're transporting them via via truck.

Speaker 1: 18:46

Yeah, and you hit on something there that I want to take a. I want to take a minute to talk about it. So the seasonal availability of any type of produce in certain areas is a very interesting thing and I want to, like we have we'll use tomatoes as an example. Right, we have access to tomatoes year round as consumers and as people that eat food, that it has tomato, whether it's, you know, pasta sauce or ketchup, or you're just throwing them in salad, we always have them. Where they come from and where they're grown will change throughout the year.

Speaker 1: 19:21

So when somebody is afraid broker that deals with a certain commodity, your season does not have to end whenever, like, let's say, for example, you had Florida, right, and they end around June, right. When June comes around, as a freight broker, you don't have to stop moving tomatoes, you just have to. If you want to go year round, you have to diversify where your growers or you know these produce companies. You have to diversify where they're located and who they are, because they're going they are coming into the United States, into our grocery stores year round and Mexico I'm glad you pointed that out. There's a lot of different produce.

Speaker 1: 19:58

I don't want to get too off topic of tomatoes right now, but there's a lot of produce that comes up through Mexico through the winter months and it's being moved on trucks and there's a lot of freight brokers involved there.

Speaker 1: 20:08

So it's just a matter of who that customer is and how you're getting access to that freight and your season doesn't have to end just because your one customer is done. If you're really good at moving tomatoes and you have a good carrier network that understands the, you know the way that they have to be loaded and stored and you know all that good stuff, build out your entire book of business around that. But you're just you're kind of just getting more like a breath of it instead of well, I'm just going to shut down for four months and hopefully I'll have the same customer come October when Florida starts shipping tomatoes again. So I just wanted to make a note of that, you know, as kind of a one-on-one level thing for someone that's newer into seasonal commodities and it's not just produce, there's other seasonal stuff too that will shift based on the time of year. Oh yeah, that's good. Do you have anything you want to add on that point?

Speaker 3: 20:59

No, it's really again to the point where they're always moving. It just matters where they're moving so that you can keep moving them throughout the year. Otherwise you're only going to be able to move them with that customer during that season, for sure.

Speaker 2: 21:13

Yeah, I had a question for you, nate, and for Benjamin. As far as you talk about because, really, tomatoes you could, if you wanted to broker tomato loads as a transportation company or haul the availability and the volume, since it's a huge amount of product, you could do that year-round. Do you see on your side specific truck brokers brokering one or two commodities? Because you got to know temp, you got to know pack, you got to know a lot of different things so that you do it right. What are your thoughts on?

Speaker 1: 21:46

that that's a great question. I don't see as many of them that I would like to see. Oftentimes I'll see someone that they know one commodity really well and they just run it for that season and then they're super slow in the off season. But there are some, there are some and I would say it's. I would say and I'll let Ben give his feedback too but usually the more tenured you are, that's when you'll see more people that more diversify their book of business to have year-round stuff. Usually, when you're newer and you're still learning, you might only have one main customer and they just move melons. So you're only moving stuff in melon season, which is going to kick off next month, whereas all winter long they're not moving any melons because the melons aren't coming out of that area. Ben, what is your? I mean, you worked on a huge brokerage when you started. You had a division that handles specific commodities. But what did you see with Jeff's question there?

Speaker 3: 22:41

So at the bigger company there weren't divisions, to very least. I was at TQL, so everybody was cradle to the grave. It was basically a knife fight to get a customer account in your name to be able to prospect, let alone do business with. So you see more diversification, because just how you get access and you got other people that are working with them, then prevent someone else. So that's like the bigger companies.

Speaker 3: 23:04

So to Nate's point, I see the same thing your first year. So you're probably going to get one or two decent customers and 10 that you're probably not even going to work with by the end of the year because there's just not enough of a fit. And then by the next year they start adding to those niches that they're doing well in. They might have two to this point, tomato customers and a whole bunch of random freight like some lumber here, some this here, some this here. By the end of the year they're like oh well, this is doing well for us, so now let's find more customers like this and then they'll penetrate further into that to get more of it around the year. And, to be honest, that's probably the biggest thing I work on in coaching with our clients is to help them be more proactive, to get to what Jeff is saying quicker, right? Because it makes a lot more sense to do more of what you're good at than try to learn 15 different commodities every other week. It's just, it's too much for anybody, so for sure.

Speaker 1: 23:56

Yeah, I agree, because I think the handling and the the claims risk of different commodities can vary a lot and, like here, I'll give you this as an example I've seen people that move potatoes and they move onions because they have a relatively similar transportation experience, if you want to call it that. Very rarely do I see someone that moves potatoes and raspberries because they're very different in how they're packed and how delicate they are.

Speaker 1: 24:32

So, yeah, it's, it's not common. I wish, like I said, I wish we would see more of it. So back to the prospecting side of it, and I like that. Jeff went through the different areas.

Speaker 1: 24:39

So tomatoes, right, if they're, if their season is going to end around June, and from in the Florida area and it kicks off in a similar timeframe just north in Georgia, and then, as Georgia season ends, florida's picking back up, you've been able to find yourself a year round you know the year round availability to to work with these shippers, and they're not even that far away, it's you're in the southeast area, so you've got a lot of carriers that they you know. If you can line up good quality drivers and carriers, you're not, it's not a big change for them to drive down into Florida instead of central Georgia or something like that. So all that to say, there's a lot of ways to do this and I think it's just not applied by a lot of brokers because of the complexity of it or the planning or the you know the, the foresight that would have to go into it.

Speaker 2: 25:32

But yeah, that's one of the things you guys are doing.

Speaker 3: 25:34

That's for sure, and we want to draw awareness to this right. Like and again I always try to say like, think simply, can you buy the thing you're shipping all year long at the grocery store? Okay, well, how many months of the year are you shipping it? How many months of the year you know it's being shipped right? Close that gap. You're literally getting there If you can still eat it, whatever time of year it is. It's moving all year round.

Speaker 3: 25:56

But to this whole point of the episode, where it's coming from is what's changing right. So that's what the brokers need to be more proactive and use sources like Blue Book to be more aware of what's actually happening from the you know supply side of what they're moving right. And also another point that's really important like this is a really good prospecting tip, because I can't like I've got a client right now that I'm working with a few that are prospecting produce right and their conversations, meaning how quickly they get somebody to be able to talk to them, goes up significantly when they are aware and can talk through this right. And the recent example was, like a lot of you know produce moves from LA, you know the bread basket, down to Arizona. Then they move back again after winter.

Speaker 3: 26:42

Just being able to be aware of that and to be able to talk through that with your prospect shows that you know what's going on is going to increase their confidence and willingness to work with you. So this stuff isn't just for lead gen. Like this, information should be woven and used in conversations because it not only gives the perception you know what you're doing. You're actually learning what you're doing. You do know what you're doing, right Like it's. It's you know all around, beneficial to everybody that's doing this and using Blue Book for these things For sure.

Speaker 2: 27:17

And to your point, to the Benjamin, I think, and what you've been already, what you've already, both of you sure you know. If you are working with one of your, your clients, or even the listener today who's looking to grow, grow business on a specific commodity like tomatoes, and they have the knowledge and then the experience and the execution, say this year, on moving loads, either transporting them or brokering them successfully, then they can speak into that as they continue to prospect in the future. You know it's not just like you know, and so that that's huge because we're dealing with fresh and all the other intricacies that we've already talked about this morning, as well as previous episodes of handling and transporting fresh fruits and vegetables. You do it right or it's really hard to do it at all, and so I think this is just a huge data point and an execution point for listeners to be aware of For sure.

Speaker 1: 28:16

Yeah, I think there's a lot, of a lot of risk in getting involved in any commodity that requires some sort of an Algebra expertise, expertise not having it, not knowing where to go, so like I think that's where Blue Book is very valuable and as a resource to get the information about a lot of this stuff.

Speaker 3: 28:36

I found something I saw recently on tomatoes and this was on like some. I don't know where I saw this photo, or like Facebook or Instagram or wherever, but it was talking about when tomatoes actually became popular in like Europe and the United States and, since they're a member of the Nightshade family, for a very long time Europeans and Americans were scared to eat them. So nobody ate them, at least in those two cultures. And the other thing when I researched to see if that meme was actually true, it said it is true. So it took a much longer time for both of those cultures to eat them. And the other reason was when people were eating them, they were getting sick and dying and they thought it was the tomato. The reality was it was that their silverware was made out of lead and they were getting lead poisoning and they thought it was the tomato. Right, Wow, I was just like, hey, I mean, makes perfect sense when you think about it. But I always find those little things like kind of interesting, as to this might sound dumb.

Speaker 3: 29:36

What is it? What is Nightshade? Nightshade is a family of plants I think they're almost all poisonous that fall under Nightshade Like they. Literally different variations of Nightshade plants are poisonous. I don't know enough to say which fall and which don't, but I know it's predominantly. I can't even pronounce it, like I have the name of what it is, but I don't know.

Speaker 1: 30:01

Fair enough. I was just curious Cool what else we got on tomatoes.

Speaker 2: 30:07

On the tomatoes. I think it's important too for your listeners as far as blue book services goes and how we can help. So you know I did do some homework here before we jumped on to this episode today and you know we talked about seasonality of tomatoes and different parts of the United States that they come from in different months. But you know, as far as tomatoes go, there's 159 grower shippers of tomatoes in Florida and in the Southeast, which they would then also include Florida, georgia and the Carolinas. So those states Florida, georgia, carolina's Southeast 245. So you go up from 159 just in Florida of grower shippers to 245. You move up to the Northeast, you got about 106. In the Southwest part of the United States you got 347 grower shippers of tomatoes and in California alone you have 217.

Speaker 2: 31:08

The growers shippers in Florida and California, the two largest producers of Tomatoes, and then you've got, as we've mentioned already, canada as well as Mexico. So we have about 20 Plus companies in Canada that handle greenhouse Tomatoes. That we're flipping gears a little bit here. But there's also tomatoes in a grown over glass and that's significant because Canada is a big player on that. Mexico is as well. Us is also a player in greenhouse production of tomatoes, and that would be about 41 companies. So Just a lot of opportunities for your listeners to think about. And then I believe they gotta lead through Blue Book services. That would be a great resource for them to use. And again, not only just a directory of growers, shippers, but also everyone through their fresh produce supply chain, from your growers shipper to your retail food service companies, as well as transportation Brokers, as well as transportation Trucking companies. So just a lot of great resources for them to use. And also, these companies earn ratings, so that's important too.

Speaker 3: 32:18

I think that's one of the most important things. I mean I'd say that the same I'm like. I have access to zoom info, which means I can find just basically any contact or company or email address. Right, and it's super expensive. We get it through one of the companies.

Speaker 3: 32:31

I for sure Prefer Blue Book over that tool for produce, for exactly what we were just talking about first is I can quickly find the other Information I might need to refresh myself on in the same source, right, the know, your commodity page.

Speaker 3: 32:48

But the more the one of the most valuable is not only that they're all in one place and they're easily Sortable, but I can see them by credit rating, which now means I'm not wasting my time Prospecting a company that, even if they give me a yes, a month later I find out we don't really want to work with because their credit isn't at our standards.

Speaker 3: 33:05

And the last piece which I feel is important as the first three, is that it's a two-way street. So, like shippers have trust when they're talking to you, when you can reference your blue book number and they can see your Credit and experience and reviews, and just the speed at which you can do business increases Significantly because it increases trust both ways, right. Like, no matter what business you're in, if you want to increase the speed of it, you increase trust, right? That's what the flow of business is and to me that aspect there isn't another platform out there to prospect anything in shipping that works both ways, where the shipper can also vet the person they're working with without having to talk to them long enough until they believe what they're saying. Right, and to me that's enormous.

Speaker 1: 33:51

Yeah, that's huge. You kind of take it, you take like the shortcut, but it's not a Not a bad short cut, it's a good short cut for sure. Good stuff, asparagus.

Speaker 2: 34:06

Yes, we're speakers from tomatoes to asparagus, so the elephant in the room with asparagus.

Speaker 1: 34:11

I got asked a question Does everybody's piece smell after they, after they asparagus? Or is it only certain people? Because I've heard some people like be surprised when they hear that pretty sure it's everybody, how's everybody.

Speaker 2: 34:24

Something about a trans time. What was the question?

Speaker 1: 34:26

again, if you eat asparagus, to make sure piece smell, makes a joke about it. And again yeah, yeah, you know, you know we're talking about you, don't you know I?

Speaker 2: 34:45

hear. I don't know.

Speaker 1: 34:50

It's not everyone it's genetic variation.

Speaker 3: 34:54

Apparently at least the court.

Speaker 1: 34:55

I think depending on what you eat else here, but all right.

Speaker 2: 35:01

I think depending on what you eat, it gets you know. Depending on what you eat, it could, you could smell that that Piece of food item that you're eating anyway. So let's go into asparagus because you know it's. It's a spring product for the most part. There is some year-round accessibility depending on the country, but for the for the most part, united States isn't a year-round producer. In fact it's not a year-round producer of asparagus but it's it's in in this sweet spot that we're talking in here in March and moving on into the spring, here as far as Availability and so Top producers of asparagus include California, washington, michigan, new Jersey, and then it's also imported Through Mexico, which would probably be coming up through primarily both no Gallus, arizona, as well as the Rio Grande Valley, through Texas, from our Mexico producers, peru and Chile.

Speaker 2: 36:26

That would probably primarily be coming in through the Miami area as well as I would, I believe, on the east coast more or less East coast, more like the New York City, philadelphia area, where it's imported as well. But I'm shipping seasons are already kicked off. California started shipping asparagus in February. We're hitting shipping of asparagus in Michigan in April, washington in April and then it starts in New Jersey in May, and then Canada in May, and so that's just another great opportunity for your listeners to consider Pursuing that commodity and yeah, I want to.

Speaker 1: 37:05

I think I got it. I want to hop in here. That's kind of fascinating to me. I did. I did not look up by anything about asparagus until we are doing this episode. As far as like where it, you know where it's grown, that's got to be a. Is it a soil thing, do you think? Because it I'm kind of when I'm here in like Michigan, new Jersey, and I'm not seeing anything, as far as like Georgia or the Great Plains, I'm wondering why, why those locations? Maybe it's a soil thing. You have any idea, or no?

Speaker 2: 37:38

I can't totally run expert standpoint say oh, so I think it has has merit for sure.

Speaker 1: 37:45

I mean like I grew up in New Jersey, like year round. I know Mexico is warm and Michigan it's yeah, but it's generally grown in a cooler temp.

Speaker 2: 37:54

I mean, obviously you've got a window of time and so and it can't get too hot, meaning like it's not come out of Florida and it's more it's Western side of Michigan which is close to the Chicago area, that Blue Book is located in Chicago's offices, in this Chicago Blue Book services offices, in the Chicago suburbs, western suburbs, and obviously Illinois is not a major producer of asparagus, but Western Michigan for sure is. South Jersey is I'm not exactly sure where in California, but it's cooler temps and it's starting now because it's it's running to June and that's gonna get too hot.

Speaker 3: 38:29

So here's what it looks like.

Speaker 1: 38:32

Yeah, you actually information on your website about it yeah, about soil and things like that event read through it.

Speaker 3: 38:39

So the one thing that I knew about asparagus it takes a very long time for it to grow like full maturity is five years first bearing. This is the first thing. The second thing that it says in here right is that lots of growers have to develop special cover to protect the crops from sunlight. To Jeff's point. So my guess is, when you've got to grow something over multiple years, you need a moderate climate that doesn't get too hot, that has enough shade, which is probably why you see it up north. I knew people that grew it in Pittsburgh. It was a funny story. My uncle grew it in his garden when we were younger and I remember it was growing for like two years right and one of my little cousins went and picked it and ate it when they were playing and my uncle was so upset because again, it took like two and a half years to get it halfway ground, just gonna start this all over again and like. I guess that all kind of makes sense.

Speaker 2: 39:28

Like it's, it takes a very long time to grow and it can't be exposed to extreme temperatures like at least on the heat side it seems yeah, as far as I know too, on that, like it's a plant that they they grow initially in the greenhouse environment and then it comes up and then you actually cut the spirit of stocks. That's why there's, you know, a pretty straight edge at the bottom of the stock. But then if and if you let it grow and you don't cut the stock, it's basically gonna become a bush, and and then that basically, I mean in Michigan you get freezing temperatures, it'll die but it'll come back up, as far as you know. So it's more of a perennial and it is an annual type of a plant. So but to your point, it does take time for it to grow and it's a pretty, as far as you know, it's a higher value item versus like potato, tomato, as far as the cost in the store.

Speaker 2: 40:24

But I see, at least in my local supermarkets, more and more asparagus, especially around the Easter time season and we're getting into into that and as well as the springtime. But also on sides and your local restaurants with steak that's usually a side you can order or with a nice fillet of fish, whatever you want, type of fish you want. So and it's it's healthy for it too. So those are the states where it's being shipped out of. As we roll through through the month of March now and into the spring months and summer marts, I can go into numbers as far as where there's companies shipping that we have in Blue Books database if you want or if you guys go through the numbers on that and that will actually.

Speaker 1: 41:14

You mentioned a nice steak and I got to say just the other night I made, I grilled myself up a nice New York strip steak, had some asparagus with garlic in it and ice glass.

Speaker 3: 41:28

Cabernet Sauvignon is very well with steak my favorite way to prepare with steak is with a balsamic vinaigrette on a grove. There you go.

Speaker 2: 41:39

I'm with you. So look at beautiful states that have asparagus. You know Georgia's up there with a little over excuse me, california's up there well over a hundred growers shippers asparagus. Then you got Florida coming over 70 and I think part of that would also be a lot of import going back to, like Peru and some other countries, even, I believe, guatemala, as import of or export of asparagus. Washington State has 25 grower shippers, michigan 10, new York 13 or, excuse me, new Jersey 13, new York 12, arizona and Texas again. This would probably Mexico asparagus, but not with standing. Some of these states Arizona and Texas could also be growing that, but you got about 30 plus. So you know it's a pretty unique item not as many growers shippers of asparagus as we had on the tomato side, but there's definitely some opportunities for your listeners.

Speaker 1: 42:50

Pursue asparagus growers, shippers to see if they'd be interested in transporting that through their services, whether it's brokerage transportation or both and I want to say asparagus is more susceptible to claims than something like a potato, and I'd say tomatoes are probably in that same boat too, where, if not stored properly, they're gonna more easily spoil or whatever the case might be. The I'm trying to get them know your commodity tool on blue book yes, I mean you can any commodity in general. You can see what the you know, transport, cultivation temperatures, storage temperatures are all our. So this says for asparagus optimal transit temperature of 32 degrees. So yeah, you get any colder freeze damage too warm not gonna last long. Ben, did you ever move asparagus?

Speaker 3: 43:56

I have not. I was trying to figure out also price per pound. I was curious what a truckload goes for these days on load value. I was trying to figure it out.

Speaker 1: 44:07

Cool, good stuff. What anything else on the asparagus side?

Speaker 2: 44:16

No, I just think it's continually, at least on my end is a popular item I'm seeing both in store as well as in restaurants that I frequent. I think two depending on where you're located and if you're more of a California person Michigan, the East Coast you may have more touch points for asparagus than other parts of the United States. I think there is this whole aspect of geographic fruit and vegetable consumption, depending on where you are in the US, like okra, I mean we haven't talked about that and I don't want to get too far into that, but I'm not sure everybody knows about what is okra. And then also, it's not even demographic but it's also ethnicities. Some are more prone to eating okra, ethnic people, groups, than others, and you see that and that's fine. But it's just something exciting to know and just another opportunity, both on the transportation side but also just on the sales side.

Speaker 1: 45:22

I've never even heard of okra. What is it?

Speaker 2: 45:25

It's good. Oh boy, it's a vegetable number one. Two. It's kind of bitter, but not and it compliments. Usually you'd eat it within something but fried okra is big. Fried okra is big in, I'd say, the South. Like black eyed peas. Like how often you eat black eyed peas? That's more of a southern vegetable. So yeah, like even radishes and I know how many people eat radishes. That's a root vegetable. I enjoy them, I like them. They got a little kick and you put a little sea salt on those and they're tasty.

Speaker 2: 46:04

So anyway, yeah, there's just a lot to consider as far as fruit and vegetable options, for sure.

Speaker 1: 46:12

And how rad is it too. I used to like taking radish. Isn't radish, if you cook them up the right way, kind of tastes like, or has a consistency of like, a potato, doesn't it? I've?

Speaker 2: 46:21

never had a radish cooked Because it's. I mean they're small like.

Speaker 1: 46:25

Yeah, like smaller red, like dark red.

Speaker 3: 46:28

They're hard, they're hard, they're like I'm like, I'm like, I'm like you're dicing them and cooked them on a pan, fried them basically, and it was really good.

Speaker 2: 46:36

So yeah, yeah, so, yeah. So radishes pretty much in salads, or you know. You put that on a little raw tray of carrots celery pepper and cut up tip it in a ranch or just eat them straight up. But radishes with sea salt.

Speaker 1: 46:54

There you go. Nice, well, awesome, good conversation, jeff, it's always good to have you on here as a reminder. If you guys are not looking, members, make sure to check them out. You can even just get the free newsletter. You used to know your commodity tool. But, most importantly, if you want to access to all that credit and marketing information to help you I mean we went through there hundreds and hundreds of just the tomato and asparagus shippers that are in there on today's episode I mean that's a very, very full pipeline. If you're looking to branch out in the produce world or grow your book of business, absolutely nearly everything you need is right there the leads and the quality of the lead. All you got to do is make the calls.

Speaker 2: 47:37

Yep, and even even when we're plugged in. I appreciate all the love you're sharing on the different items that we have available, but even the transportation and trading guidelines and I know you guys have talked about those and gotten into those in some detail on previous, at least one previous episode but our transportation and trading guidelines are used by the industry. They're available on our website, on our homepage, and just really important for anyone in the transportation side of the produce to know and really to execute on to do well in getting a fruit or veg from point A to point B.

Speaker 1: 48:15

Outstanding, for sure. I think I remember one of the episodes we did last year. There was like a bunch of books behind, so I can't remember who was on, but like a library of all the books in the. Is it yours? Is that what it?

Speaker 2: 48:27


Speaker 1: 48:28

It's all about the guidelines like written down in text form.

Speaker 2: 48:31

So yeah, yeah, there's, there's a PDF. I mean it's a digital format on our website, but it's, it's good. It's maybe a 20, 25 page document of trading and transportation guidelines that we've authored and they've, you know, have and are currently being used by majority of transportation companies in the in the produce industry.

Speaker 1: 48:53

Awesome, very good Again. We appreciate having having you on here, jeff, and we're going to have you on a more times later this year. Talk about more commodities, so we're looking forward to it.

Speaker 2: 49:03

Help out Same here, same here. Thanks so much for your time Of course All right.

Speaker 1: 49:09

Well, ben any final thoughts here before we wrap it up.

Speaker 3: 49:12

No, I think everybody that reaches out to us constantly and goes I don't know who to call, I don't know when to call them. Right Like this is what this whole episode is right. And the third question is what should I call the? Or I can actually make some money. This answers all three questions right who to call, when to call them, and the commodities in which the margins are going to sit right Like, the more fragile it is, the more shippers going to pay to make sure it gets transported and the care it needs to to get there and the condition it's supposed to right. It's that simple, right. One stop shop for all of it. Is that, man, whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you're right.

Speaker 1: 49:51

Until next time, and I'll be recording in person with you next week. Ben Go Bells.

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Freight 360
Freight 360

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