Image of a worker inspecting produce in a warehouse.

The food logistics industry is huge, as the global market reached $10.6 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $167.1 billion by 2028, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.22% between 2023 and 2028.

As a company that handles food products, logistics is an important part of your business. But it can also be challenging, especially if you don’t have a dedicated logistics staff.

That’s where third-party logistics providers (3PLs) come in. An integrated 3PL can handle every stage of your food supply chain for you.

The Importance of 3PL for Frozen Food Items

A third-party logistics (3PL) provider is a company that provides logistics and supply chain management to other companies. They can handle warehousing, transportation, distribution, packaging and labeling, and more.

By outsourcing food service logistics and management to a 3PL, food companies can reduce their operating costs, focus on their core business activities, and rest assured that their food products will be delivered on time and in full. But that’s not all.

3PLs that specialize in food logistics like FW Logistics also offer all of the following:

1. Food Safety Compliance

As a food company, you need to make sure that you maintain strict adherence to federal, state, and local food regulations.

Fortunately, a reputable 3PL can help you maintain the integrity of your food supply chain and stay compliant. For example, a good 3PL will maintain warehouses that are registered as food-grade facilities with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They will also be in compliance with all modern food safety requirements, including those set by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Some will even go a step further and get certified by trusted external agencies like AIB International. By choosing a reputable and certified 3PL, you can rest assured that your food safety compliance will never lapse.

Did you know there’s a better way to not only keep your perishable foods safe, but you also reduce food waste? Learn more about how blast freezing helps with long-term food preservation.

Reduce Food Waste With Blast Freezing

2. Warehousing and Distribution Services

Proper warehousing and distribution are critical to storing and handling food products. A 3PL can provide all the necessary warehousing and distribution services you need, including temperature and humidity control and inventory management.

For example, many foods need to stay at specific temperature and humidity levels (e.g. produce). This takes careful planning. A 3PL will be able to maintain strict temperature and humidity requirements with the help of refrigerated trucks and storage facilities. They may also have temperature-controlled docks to maintain temperature requirements across operations and provide 24/7 monitoring to address unwanted fluctuations.

When it comes to inventory management, a dedicated 3PL will have a warehouse management system (WMS) in place to manage and fulfill orders, track products entering and leaving the warehouse, print labels, report on key logistics metrics, share information with vendor and client systems, and more.

Other warehousing and distribution services that a 3PL can offer include recall capabilities for returned orders, cross-docking services for tight schedules, product rotation to keep inventory fresh, and other value-add services, such as kitting and assembly, inventory postponement, retail display building, and repackaging services.

With an integrated 3PL solution powered by experience and automated technology, you can get a lot more bang for your buck.

3. Transportation Services

Food logistics 3PLs also offer transportation services. These include managing the shipment of food products, route optimization, and carrier selection. In short, 3PLs can help get your food products where they need to go, from the manufacturer all the way to the distributor or retailer. They give you the logistical capacity you need when you need it.

Transportation services also include temperature control on the go. 3PLs can use refrigerated trucks and vehicles to ensure food products stay cool or frozen while monitoring the temperature throughout the trip.

Some 3PLs also offer less-than-truckload (LTL) services when you don’t have enough product to fill a trailer. Alternatively, they might offer pool distribution, which involves combining your food products with those of another company headed to the same place. That way, you save on LTL cargo costs and don’t have to wait to fill a full trailer on your own. Ultimately, when it comes to getting food products from point A to point B, 3PLs have you covered.

4. Port Services

Lastly, many 3PLs also offer port services for companies that import or export products overseas (which is increasingly common in today’s global food supply chain). Basically, port services enable the maritime transportation of food items. This is a huge value add since coordinating global supply chain schedules of different shipments can be challenging. It takes a collaborative strategy with a large network of international logistics partners.

Some ancillary services that often come with port services include drayage, trans-loading, and cross-docking. All of these can help you maintain food delivery schedules, keep up food safety standards, and save time and money in the long run.

FW Warehousing: Your Trusted Food Delivery & Logistics Company

At the end of the day, 3PLs are a one-stop shop for all your food logistics needs. They eliminate the need to hire and manage several different vendors. Instead, you can trust them with every stage of your food supply chain, including food safety requirements. That way, you can leave the logistics to an expert and focus on your core business activities, like product development, marketing, and sales.

Ready to take your food logistics to the next level? Consider partnering with FW logistics. We are big enough to handle your entire supply chain and small enough to provide specialized logistic services. Our tech-enabled solutions allow us to help you maximize the efficiency of your food logistics operations and provide real-time visibility into your food supply chain. No matter the current state of your logistics operations, we can help.

Feel free to contact us today for a complimentary consultation. No commitment is required. We look forward to learning more about your business and your food supply chain needs!