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Working with one of Peru’s leading pomegranate producers, DB Schenker delivers with care the rich jewels hidden inside one of the country’s most nutritious, wonderful fruits.
Encased by a richly-colored, tough, dry skin, the pomegranate fruit is a wonderful combination of seeds, sweet juicy flesh (called “arils”), and a whitish membrane that is known for its antioxidant qualities and wonderfully tart taste. With their amazingly high levels of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber, pomegranates have earned their “superfood” title.
As one of Peru’s leading pomegranate producers, Youngstown Distributors, Inc., of Reedley, Calif., supplies the rest of the world with arils of very high quality. The company peels the fruit by hand using an intricate process, and then carefully transports the precious arils from Lima via airfreight to both Los Angeles and New York.
Attention to Logistics Detail
Since 2008, DB Schenker has been providing the logistics support that helps Youngstown get its arils to specific destinations on time and in good condition. The freight itself requires special handling from the time the pomegranates are peeled by hand—revealing their high-value fruit—until they reach their U.S. destinations. One reason for the hand-peeling is the fact that the whole fruit would have to be irradiated before being shipped from Peru to the U.S., says Carlos Gonzales, Operations Manager.
One of the pioneers in exporting pomegranate arils to the U.S., DB Schenker is currently the top freight forwarder for the route from Peru to Los Angeles and New York. Transporting these perishable, high-value goods demands specialized knowledge, reliability, and quality, not to mention extreme attention to detail and cost-effective transportation options.
“Moving perishables around the world has become a global business with sophisticated logistics requirements,” says Luis Loayza, Perishables Manager for DB Schenker Peru. “We have the experience to deal with the challenges of the perishables business.”
Over 30 Years of Success
No strangers to the intricacies of shipping delicate fruit, Youngstown has been distributing stone fruit, persimmons, quince, and grapes—both domestically and internationally—for over 30 years. In 2008, under the guidance of Carlos Gonzales, the company added pomegranate arils to its product offerings.
“I read an article which stated that just 16% of the U.S. population was aware of the benefits of consuming pomegranates,” says Carlos Gonzales. Wanting to help increase that percentage, the company not only began importing arils from Peru, but it also rolled out numerous promotional and taste-testing campaigns.
As part of this initiative, the company knew that it wanted to ship the arils versus the whole pomegranate, a mission that would require extra special care during shipping and handling. It developed a peeling system that minimized the damage to the individual arils, but also needed to ensure the same level of care during transport.
“One aril has a single life cell that will bruise easily if the cargo is thrown or bumped around too much,” says Carlos Gonzales. The arils must also be kept at a steady temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Working with DB Schenker, it devised a way to ensure that the maximum volume of cargo gets to the U.S. in perfect condition.
The process starts during the 4-hour ride from the farm to the airfreight loading dock. Transported via refrigerated trucks or “reefers,” the aril crates are covered in blankets and kept at the appropriate temperature. The cargo is then kept in cold refrigerators until about four hours before the flight takes off, and is always the last to load on the plane (to ensure that the arils don’t have to wait too long on the ramp).
Checking Their Temperature
Should the cold chain break with Youngstown’s arils in it, condensation could set in and the fruit would easily spoil, bruise, or even become moldy. Through careful monitoring and constant attention, DB Schenker makes sure this doesn’t happen.
“DB Schenker checks the temperature of the freight to make sure everything meets our specifications,” says Carlos Gonzales, who adds that the logistics provider has effectively handled any challenges associated with its shipments. When one carrier attempted to split a shipment of arils across two different planes, for example, DB Schenker worked quickly to get another bill of lading (BOL) in place and ensure a smooth U.S. customs process.
“They’re very good about making sure airlines don’t split up our shipments,” says Carlos Gonzales, whose company transports seven shipments per week to the U.S. during production season (two to New York and three or four to Los Angeles). It has increased its aril production by about 25% over the last few years, and expects that growth to continue in 2020 and beyond.
“In 2018, we were the only company supplying pomegranates year-round,” Carlos Gonzales points out. “Several other companies are doing it now, but it’s not that easy.” Having turned to DB Schenker’s logistics services in his role with a different company, Carlos Gonzales enjoys the company’s consistent levels of customer service and attention. “They take care of our product and handle all of the intricacies of shipping our delicate, high-value product,” he says, “while consistently meeting our expectations.”