As New Year Blossoms, Prime Logistics Readies for Busy Flower Season Ahead

Are you rested and ready for the New Year? You better be, as the floral transport industry is about to enter its busiest time of year – with the one-two-three punch of Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day, and Mother’s Day upon us. You can rest assured, the experts at Prime Logistics are ready. We’ve been managing the shipment of international perishables and non-perishables for our customers for more than 20 years now!

Valentines Day Planning Underway

For this day of lovers, which is different than most other holidays, consumers generally stick with long-stem reds, pinks, and sometimes whites – millions of them. With a roughly 24-day period from the grower to the end customer, the first round of activity leading up to Valentine’s Day on February 14 is here. In fact, many wholesalers forward their price lists to retailers as soon as the day after Christmas. Next step, in about mid-January, is to send their supply lists to the South American flower growers, to ensure arrival starting the first few days of February. This is where Prime Logistics steps in.

With the official shipping window for this first major flower-giving period of the year being Jan. 20 to about Feb. 8, Prime Logistics and sister company Prime Fresh Handling project they’ll be managing nearly 8 million kg of flower shipments each month out of both Colombia and Ecuador during the first two months of 2022. Using our dedicated air cargo partners Atlas Air and Emirates SkyCargo, the successful handling of such an immense volume of product is a reflection of the deep dedication we have in bringing South America’s finest fresh flowers to U.S. wholesalers and retailers this time of year — and in fact to multiple customers around the world all throughout the year.

International Women’s Day

Following Valentine’s Day, our logistics teams basically have one week to recover before getting busy again. Next up is the peak period of production and distribution supporting International Women’s Day. With Ecuador serving as the primary source of flowers for this March 8 holiday each year, the efforts of our team in Quito and Amsterdam are crucial to advancing our shipping company’s winning strategies at meeting the demand of its valued customers.

In fact, the Ecuadorian flower market supplies more than 70 countries around the world with floriculture products. But when it comes to Women’s Day, Russia is the number one market.

On this day, people celebrate by delivering flowers to powerful women in their life, historically with the mimosa flower, a symbol of strength, sensibility, and sensitivity. White roses are also very popular.

Mother’s Day

And finally, it’s Mother’s Day on May 8, another hugely popular flower-giving holiday around the world. The peak period of activity preceding mum’s day is mid-April through about May 1. Accounting for one-fourth of the floral purchases made on any holiday, some call it the Super Bowl of flowers.

We call it another day at the office.

Well in excess of 20 million flowers from Colombia and Ecuador are planned to be cut, gathered, and shipped during the 2022 Valentine’s Day/Women’s Day season. We’re still assessing anticipated volume for Mother’s Day, so as soon as we catch our collective breath, we’ll get back to you on that!

Frantically filling back-to-back freighters from nose to tail, day after day, it’s a pressure-packed experience that’s exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. We are fortunate at the Prime Logistics to boast some of the best-qualified and seasoned experts in the flower industry. They work hard to keep our ground game running smoothly for our customers, year after year.

So ‘tis the season for flowers, flowers, and more flowers. Prime Logistics is your service and we wish you all the best.

Women in Supply Chain Management: Tracking Progress, Championing Opportunity

Millions of women have “vacated the premises” – that is, they left their business-workplace jobs since this pandemic began. Not the case, however in the global supply chain management business. Fortunately, over this same period, we’re seeing female representation in this sector trending upward.

A 2021 “Women in Supply Chain” survey conducted by Gartner and Awesome revealed that women now make up 41 percent of the supply chain management workforce. That’s the highest percentage ever in that survey’s history.

In past decades, the supply chain management industry was traditionally male-dominated, and that’s shifting. But Prime Logistics has long been ahead of the curve, proudly championing female representation and diversity in the workplace.

“Simply put, we believe that diverse employee teams are our company’s best resource for reimagining new strategies and solving age-old problems with creative and unique solutions,” says Omar Zambrano, COO-Prime Group, who oversees operations for the company’s Miami-based Prime Logistics division. “These are critical skills that all businesses need during good times but especially during challenging times.”

Industry-wide, the number of supply chain companies who say they desire to attract, hire, develop, and retain female employees has soared. In fact, that’s zoomed upward by double digits –from 46 percent of supply chain industry respondents in 2020 to 68 percent in 2021, according to a survey by Gartner and ASCM.

“Right now, we’re seeing more women not only seeking jobs in supply chain management but also viewing our industry as an ‘in demand’ career choice with potential for job progression,” says Zambrano. “That’s a big plus on the diversity side.”

A past stumbling block was pay parity within many companies, but that too has progressed. According to the Association for Supply Chain Management, results from its recent “Supply Chain Salary and Career Report” shows the previous pay gap between what men and women under 40 years of age can earn for supply chain jobs is now close to parity. “It’s hopeful that this trend will continue industry-wide as those same female employees age and move into the next phase of their supply chain management careers,” Zambrano added.

The overarching goal of Prime Logistics, along with all companies under the Prime Group umbrella, is to create a climate of inclusion, a pathway to career fulfillment, equal opportunities for all, and the absolute best-employee team it can build to assist its entire global base of clientele. Daily, customers all around the world interact with highly qualified women in management positions across the multiple divisions – everyone from Prime Logistics Group Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre to Christina Moscoso, general manager of Prime Fresh Handling at LAX; to Prime Planet Business Development Manager Marie Gonzalez and Elizabeth Suarez, General Manager of PrimeAir-Ecuador/Colombia/Peru.

A diverse workforce adds one “secret sauce” element for employers as well. It tends to foster a culture of empathy for others, which directly impacts any company’s ability to best serve all its customers. That’s the right thing to do. Plus, it’s a positive factor that can lead to greater business success. So, as we move into an all new year, let’s champion the progress of women in supply chain management but also pledge to keep moving the needle forward for diversity in 2022 and beyond.

About Prime Logistics

One of the four divisions of Prime Group, an international logistics services conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001, Prime Logistics serves to streamline, optimize, and expedite freight to and from the U.S. for a wide range of major industries.

With offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Bogota, Quito, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics capitalizes on its long-time relationships with the major air carriers and ocean lines, to offer competitive rates in securing ample space to destinations all around the world.

For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

The Super Human Element in Supply Chain Logistics

The Super Human Element in Supply Chain Logistics

While a logistics manager has responsibilities that vary from one organization to the next, one thing is for sure, it’s not an easy task – especially in the age of COVID. That’s because they have the crucial role of ensuring things go smoothly no matter what, and often under the most challenging conditions imaginable.

From healthcare to manufacturing to food and beverage sectors, every industry is feeling the effects of the pandemic, most notably in getting products to where they need to go. Transportation is the glue that brings these products to distribution centers, stores, warehouses, and consumers’ doorsteps. Logistics mangers ensure grocery stores have food on shelves; retail outlets have the stock needed to satisfy their customers; and pharmacies and health centers have the critical medicines and supplies that keep us alive.

There is a lot resting on the logistics managers of the world. So how is it some people are naturally a good fit to excel in the supply chain environment? What remarkable qualities they possess? Let’s take a look:

The Role of the Logistics Manager 

A logistics manager, or supply chain manager, supervises the entire supply chain purchasing and distribution process for his or her respective operation. So number one, strong leadership skills are essential. They handle the entire delivery process of products by scheduling both inbound and outbound shipments and constantly monitor them to ensure each product arrives on time. They constantly collaborate with product carriers to determine and negotiate shipping rates for materials. They also typically manage the inventory of products stored within the warehouse. And in the process they build strong and long-lasting relationships with product suppliers and clients. The list goes on…

Experience also counts, big time. There’s a certain insider knowledge one can only gain from hands-on experience in the world of logistics. Extensive knowledge of what’s going on in the industry – in the here and now – is also a must. Being equipped with information on the latest happenings and trends in supply chain management is essential to succeeding in this field. It also doesn’t hurt to take time to do research on other companies’ processes, and benchmark on their best supply chain practices

 What Makes A Great Logistics Manager?

Among the skills listed by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as the most important in supply chain careers is “a broad knowledge of logistics, IT and database experience, customer service abilities, and critical-thinking skills.” So let’s start there.

In terms of problem-solving and critical thinking, a logistics manager has to handle unexpected challenges that may occur, like shipping restrictions or limited capacity. Creative thinking skills are also a must. So they often have to go outside the box to achieve the desired best outcome – and know when and how to do so.

Excellent time and task management skills are also important for logistics managers to have as they must prioritize and complete several duties – often all at the same time and with varying deadlines.

Quick Follow-Through

The most successful logistics professionals have two things in common: They’re organized and they’re detail-oriented. The supply chain has numerous moving parts, so by mastering the art of being organized, they are adept at following up with even the smallest component of the supply chain to ensure an important delivery gets to where it needs to be. They are involved in the process from the start right until the very end and have a way of reviewing and keeping tabs on things super efficiently and quickly.

In a position that requires coordination with a number of different teams and people, every detail must be accounted for. Incoming products must meet certain standards and must be delivered according to a specific schedule, with the supply chain manager effectively navigating elements like timing and cost. Teamwork within logistics is an essential skill for every professional in the field, especially when speed and quality are of the essence.

Ability to See the Big Picture

Logistics managers need to be able to see the bigger picture of the supply chain they are working within and visualize processes from start to finish. They’ve got to anticipate what could go wrong with everything from packaging to shipping and delivery – and even formulate contingency plans on top of their contingency plans in order to make the supply chain flow continuously. Planning ahead is a major component of logistics. Which brings us to the next important quality.

Forward Thinking

As a logistics manager, they not only must have a holistic understanding of supply chain management, but also have the ability to make accurate predictions of the possible needs of their company, as well as outcomes of actions made across the entire supply chain. They always think and plan ahead – and live by the maxim, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Adaptability & Problem Solving

Problems and last-minute changes are inevitable in logistics, making adaptability and flexibility crucial. Well honed problem-solving skills that involve analysis, business development knowledge, operational information, and even psychology are an absolute necessity for a supply chain professional to make it this business.

Sound Decision-Making

Because the supply chain work environment is very fast-paced and fraught with disruptions, there exists a considerable amount of pressure. A manufacturing facility that shuts down unexpectedly, or bad weather, accidents, and civil unrest can all cause major delays – resulting in significant losses in revenue in a short amount of time.

In a world where so many products are in record high demand, and the customers themselves are becoming more demanding, logisticians who thrive in this environment do so by learning and mastering how to handle stress, stay calm, and make sound decisions – fast!

Interpersonal Skills and Honesty

Since their work requires interacting with people from all walks of life, it is imperative that a logistics manager maintains good connections with everyone in their realm. There is no room for miscommunication in this industry – nor is there room for dishonesty. It’s not uncommon for some people to attempt to cover their mistakes, such as a late shipment. But a seasoned logistics manager understands that by being fully accountable and transparent with customers, it may actually strengthen the relationship with the customer.

Continually Seeking Improvement

A hyper-focus in continuous improvement expertise is, and will continue to be, key to a company’s logistics success. Professionals in this field use information gathered from various systems to monitor, analyze, and adjust processes accordingly. Those who have developed the ability to identify ways to continually streamline work processes are critical to their organization’s continued success.

Lumber Industry is Riding Seesaw of Supply Chain Instability

“Unprecedented” is the best way to describe the volatility in today’s global supply chain. Our business clients and wholesalers who ship lumber, cleaning supplies, fresh produce, computer chips, vaccines, and a host of other goods face the challenges of rising product and transport pricing, product shortages, port congestion, and limited transportation capacity. Those “hits” to the speed and reliability along all supply chains just seem to keep on coming.

Most notably, the “big picture” changes daily.

One good example is the lumber industry. “As an integral part of the lumber industry’s supply chain, we’re monitoring these developments closely and doing whatever we can to minimize the impact and make logistical adjustments to assist our lumber supplier and wholesaler clients,” emphasizes Omar Zambrano, COO, Prime Group, who oversees operations for the company’s Miami-based Prime Logistics division.

Robust Industry Demand

Fortunately, the lumber industry is seeing some positive housing indicators from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.  “Those agencies report robust new residential construction based on three factors – authorized building permits, housing starts, and housing completions,” Zambrano notes.

Lumber demand has outpaced supply over the past year as consumers desire bigger homes, many of whom new construction, and adults working at home have dived into DIY (do it yourself) projects. Americans in droves spent their stimulus checks on such projects, while some city dwellers opted for new second homes in the countryside.

But that soaring demand for lumber and plywood too has been coupled with other factors causing the “perfect storm.” Those include pandemic-era production cuts, rising oil prices, reduced worker output, limited truck availability (due to driver shortages, and government shutdown orders at domestic and foreign lumber mills.

Crazily Rising Rates

Shortages of freight shipping containers and pallets (also with higher costs for both), plus limited capacity in general for shipping also have impacted the supply chain and caused crazily rising transport costs for air, ocean, and land shipping. Supply Chain Dive, a top logistics-industry publication, reported that record-breaking lumber prices and supply restrictions have impacted everything from home building to book publishing.

Previously, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that, the average price of a newly constructed single-family home has increased by about $36,000 since April 2020. Right now, 3,000 U.S. sawmills are again operating at full capacity, so the cost of lumber, which had soared from $350 to $1,600 or even more “per thousand board feet” during 2020 and into the first half of 2021 has dropped in recent months. Yet, many believe the roller coaster of lumber price changes could continue.

As a veteran logistics expert, “Prime Group knows all too well that marketplace pressures and pricing volatility remain for all types of shipping – whether it’s air, ocean or land – and across many industries,” says Zambrano. In addition to pricing and delivery issues that customers are experiencing, his logistics team is dealing with the ripple effect of ongoing port congestion.

No Time to Stock Up

One telltale sign of the disruptions is that importers accustomed to having several months’ worth of inventory stocked in warehouses are now writing up orders to ship those goods out immediately to the retail-store shelves as soon as they’re removed from shipping containers. “It’s mindboggling in many ways,” he reports.

Zambrano points to struggles across the board that Prime Logistics’ customers are realizing daily. In addition to lumber supply-chain customers and wholesalers, those clients include manufacturers and distributors of biotech supplies, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals; aerospace and automotive parts; perishables and temperature-sensitive cargos; project cargos; and hazardous materials, among others.

Go-To Spots Get Spotty

In one example, after many Chinese factories shut downs given the pandemic, and the annual Chinese New Year holiday shutdowns last year (and now again on the horizon), some of Prime Logistics’ business clients and wholesalers began to view alternative manufacturing markets such as Vietnam as the “go-to spot” to help fill supply voids. But just as clients got comfortable with the new supply chain arrangements, Vietnam then issued stay-at-home orders.

So, on a daily basis, Prime Group’s logistics experts are helping customers “pass, punt, and kick” to keep their product moving – and advising them to order early and often, if they can afford it.

“Fortunately, Prime Logistics supports its customer in shipping commodities via land, air, and ocean to and from virtually any destination,” stresses Zambrano, “and this year, those relationships are proving invaluable as logistical plans often must be changed quickly.”

Based in Miami, the company supports customers from its headquarters offices in Doral as well as Los Angeles and New York in the U.S.; Quito, Ecuador; Bogota, Colombia; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands – and via hundreds of representatives worldwide.

Communications is Key

That business “scope” is important as experts say that in some industries, adequate goods and shipping capacity won’t be “right-sized” until 2023 or beyond. One fact is clear, says Zambrano: “The supply chain challenges this year are unprecedented and may continue into next year too.”

He believes regular communication with suppliers and regular communications to clients is absolutely critical for business operational success on all sides: “Let’s champion flexibility and forward planning as we work closely together to find solutions for a fast-evolving business marketplace – one that seems to change by he hour.”

About Prime Logistics 

One of the four divisions of Prime Group, an international logistics services conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001, Prime Logistics serves to streamline, optimize, and expedite freight to and from the U.S. for a wide range of major industries.

With offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Bogota, Quito, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics capitalizes on its long-time relationships with the major air carriers and ocean lines, to offer competitive rates in securing ample space to destinations all around the world.

For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball, as Major Equipment Shortages Sock Global Logistics

There’s a line in the classic baseball movie “Bull Durham” that goes to the unpredictability of the game of baseball. It’s where the character played by Tim Robbins mulls, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

Add to that, “Sometimes the conditions are such that the entire game is delayed” – as is the case with the global logistics industry these days as it continues to respond to rapid swings in cargo pricing, availability, and reliability due to unprecedented pressures along the world’s supply chains.

“At a time when consumer demand is at all-time highs, shippers are faced with protracted delays in moving cargo due to a global shortage of needed capacity,” says Omar Zambrano, Chief Operating Officer of Prime Group, “all of which is primarily a direct result of the pandemic.”

Another significant challenge facing virtually every manufacturing, service, and distribution company worldwide – and the supply chains they depend on – is the acute lack of equipment needed to enable all lines of cargo transport. Says Zambrano, equipment such as dry containers, reefer containers, and special equipment to move project cargo.

It all adds up to a serious situation with no short-term solution.

A Very Merry Q4

“All of this comes as major retailers are busy buying all they can now to stock up for what is surely to be a very frantic fourth quarter,” he adds. Even in a good year, planning in advance of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas all comes with unique challenges. This year, however, those traditional pressures are now further amplified against a backdrop of existing heavy consumer spending.

“It’s going to get to a point in October and November where it will be extremely difficult to find space – and there’s no simple solution, as so many of our products come from across the globe, from aircraft engines and canned foods to, well, even baseball trading cards!”

One way that cargo owners are dealing with the rampant shortage of equipment in the ocean shipping market is to bring in their product earlier in the hopes that it at least arrives during third quarter 2021. Additionally, they are importing more goods from multiple sources, increasing the number of container lines they are using, and routing goods through more ports than they have in years past.

Therein lies the conundrum: meeting the heightened demand for goods this year is making congestion at the major U.S. ports on the West Coast even worse – and the cascade of incoming containers is not expected to stop any time soon.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

According to Zambrano, while there may be plenty of shipping containers across the globe, the reality is so many of them are now in the wrong places. For example, as the pandemic began, cargo ships in transit from Asia dropped off hundreds of thousands of containers in Western Hemisphere ports.

“But with pandemic-era restrictions in place at many overseas ports,” he adds, “they couldn’t be reloaded with other products and shipped back to Asia. Instead, they are piling up at ports and railway depots.” They were, and still are in many cases, out of position.

“In turn, the supply of shipping containers has shrunk at major export hubs, while COVID-shocked consumers continue to spend a ton of money on new manufactured goods,” says Zambrano. “It’s a spiraling situation that is likely continue into 2023.”

Looking for Answers

As a result, Prime Logistics is finding itself in the unenviable position of having to explain to its customers that very little can be done at this point to ameliorate the deepening issues affecting the logistics industry.

“It’s not in our corporate DNA to deliver news like this. With a service-oriented mindset and great contacts in the industry, we have always been able to provide alternative solutions for our long-term and new customers alike,” he stresses, such as utilizing the pre-arranged contract space Prime Logistics has with many of the major ocean carriers.

Build It and They Will Come

Across the globe, one idea in the pipeline right now is to boost production of new containers, and the three Chinese manufacturers that supply 80 percent of the world’s shipping containers are hard at work doing just that. But this may be a lot too late, as observers agree it’s just not going to quell this year’s acute and growing shortage.

Ocean carriers also are doubling orders for container ships this year as a result of the lack of tonnage to meet the strong demand. There are nearly a thousand new container ships presently on order for future delivery. In fact, Hapag Lloyd has commissioned ships that will expand it global system capacity by 60,000 TEUs to address the critical lack of equipment. Ironically, in many cases, production is being delayed as raw materials to manufacture those ships are caught up in supply chain bottlenecks.

Whatever It Takes

The pandemic-driven mentality of “do whatever it takes” is understandable but the options remain severely limited. Where creativity and innovation have helped Prime Logistics in the past to get customer cargo where it needs to go, they are now endeavoring to work with customers much closer and well in advance, to be able to offer more than just one option to move their cargo.

Prime Logistics shipping consultants are having outside-the-box conversations, as well, suggesting cargo owners might look at diversifying suppliers and resetting expectations of their existing partners, while factoring in higher costs – all key components of peak-season management.

Zambrano also emphasizes the importance of keeping up with the headlines. “Being knowledgeable and insightful on the rapidly changing marketplace is what we do best. When customers come to us looking for answers, we are ready to get to work for them.”

At present, in fact, news is breaking about record-setting lumber prices and supply restrictions, as well as the continued impact of high oil prices on transportation costs and petroleum-based products. Stay tuned there’s bound to be more reports like this.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

The industry has had to face some hard lessons, says Zambrano, particularly around the importance of adaptation, persistence, and resilience.

“In essence, the pandemic has served as a coach, teaching us to keep on slugging even under the most cataclysmic conditions so that we might go on to win another day.”

Capacity Shortage Threatening Viability of Global Business Supply Chains

When businesses procure products wholesale, they make precise arrangements to transport the goods to their facility or retail store, and get set for resale to customers, all the while eagerly awaiting profits to begin rolling in the door. It’s as simple as that – in theory.

Because the reality is, sometimes a critical supply chain breaks or is slowed by extreme fluctuations in worldwide cargo capacity that end up causing unexpected spikes in shipping prices. So now what’s the plan? Order more product to get ahead of any future delays or order less to stave off the sudden expenses?

“That’s exactly what’s happening right now, as a direct result of the pandemic and other disruptive forces,” says Omar Zambrano, the chief operating officer of Prime Group who oversees operations for subsidiary Prime Logistics. “There’s a terrifically serious shortage of needed shipping capacity, primarily from Asia but elsewhere across the globe, into the U.S. market. It’s a major issue.”

Worse yet, “prices are changing every week, and even by paying the highest rates, shippers still can’t often get solid confirmation of space,” he adds.

Even globally connected firms like Prime Logistics are struggling – not just to find available capacity for customers, but also to explain how in the world costs have risen up to 300% over the last six months.

Sticker Shock

According to Zambrano, as prices soared, many Prime Logistics’ importers said, at first, “I can’t pay that.” Eventually, they budged and bought shipping for just one container, and waited to see what would happen. “But they’re still waiting and it’s not getting any better!”

Stunned by the higher prices, many customers wrongly assumed this would be a temporary blip, not an all-out sustained and deepening situation. “Traditionally, our customers turn to us without question to do what we do best – move their product efficiently, reliably, and at the right price,” he says. “But now, we are also playing the role of a counselor, continually providing fair and accurate assessments of the current market conditions – and advising how to best to adapt.”

Prime Logistics has also been working side-by-side with customers to help prepare for the annual rush to get inventory onto shelves for the busy end-of-year retail season. “Compared with previous peak holiday periods, this year shipments must be booked up to eight weeks earlier than usual – which essentially means, today!”

So What Happened?

Zambrano notes that the primary reasons for the current global capacity problem are COVID and the new variants of the virus and, of course, the Suez Canal debacle.

He says the lack of back-up inventory caused by the first wave of COVID persists as retailers and wholesalers were never quite able to replenish their stock of product. They never really had chance to do so. “So with no inventory and limited ability move product quick enough to match the now-exploding increase in consumer demand, we are experiencing an unprecedented shortage of global shipping capacity.”

Then there was the Suez Canal crisis that exacerbated an already bad situation – when a massive ocean freighter ran aground this past March, blocking canal traffic for six days. More than 400 ships, laden with cargo, sat idle waiting to pass – as the world waited for delivery of the stranded goods.

So just when it would make sense to turn to air cargo to pick up the slack, many airlines had already begun reconverting their pax-freighters to pure passenger service. This, combined with the emergence of the Delta variant of the virus that resulted in a reduction of frequencies into certain key Asian markets, created sharp increases in rates in the air cargo segment, as capacity dropped.

Consequently, all of these factors conspired to lengthen the normal supply-chain flow. For shipments from Asia to the U.S. East Coast, for example, the norm is four to five weeks. Now, it is up to two months. But, says Zambrano, because Prime Logistics has strong relationships with both ocean carriers and air carriers worldwide, “we have, for the most part, succeeded in moving freight for our customers from Asia, even during this most difficult time.”

Now What?

On the home front in the U.S., supermarket shoppers accustomed to paying $.50 for a can of fruit, are now suddenly discovering that very same product has jumped to $3. Zambrano says that’s because it’s not just the cost of transporting a can of fruit, but the higher cost of the can itself and even the higher price of the wood that is used to build the shipping pallets.

“Every industry is being impacted by the lack of available capacity to move the commodities that support businesses and serve consumers worldwide,” he adds. Medical supplies as well are costing more. For example, Prime Logistics transports hundreds of  shipping containers per month of medical supplies from Shanghai to U.S. Gulf ports. “Yes, even shipment of essential products and equipment is an uphill battle,” he added.

“This also comes as wholesalers and retailers here and worldwide are presently buying up product for the holidays,” Zambrano says. “It’s only going to get more challenging to find space in the last four months of the year, and there’s no simple solution, as so many products for every-day life come from across the globe – everything from tires and canned foods to electronics, machinery, medical supplies, and even fresh and frozen produce and seafood.”

Better Safe Than Sorry

This situation is highly problematic for U.S. retailers who normally rely on their ability to maintain ample inventory to keep pace with rising consumer demand. No easy task – as the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported consumer spending on durable goods through May 2021 was running 25 percent higher than pre-pandemic 2019, while the inventory-to-sales ratio continues to skim near record lows.

Because of the unabated growth of U.S. sales and major supply-chain disruptions, Zambrano reiterates that it is especially important that medium and small shippers secure cargo space now and store inventory to keep ahead of the capacity shortage. “Clearly, freight-rate shock is hitting them hardest.”

But at the end of the day, no entity anywhere across the globe is able to escape this space problem – including even the major retail and online stores. Due to their towering market strength and deep pockets, they’ve been able to charter cargo container vessels between Asia and the U.S. to mitigate their risk of being impacted by the capacity shortage. Meanwhile, many other retailers and wholesalers are taking a different route – planning way ahead.

“To ensure that sufficient inventory will be available, particularly for the holidays, we are working with our clients in every market niche to move up their shipments this year to secure needed shipping capacity,” he adds.

Perfect Storm

According to Ben Hackett, a consultant in of maritime strategy and trade logistics, clearly the strain of the continuing economic expansion is putting considerable pressure on the logistics supply chains supporting all industries worldwide,” “We’re seeing first hand the lack of shipping capacity combined with port congestion as vessels line up week after week to discharge goods from both Asia and Europe.”

He says delays are stretching to landside as port terminals struggle with space shortages, and labor challenges are affecting ports, railroads, and trucking companies alike. “This part of the recovery is not a pretty sight,” he adds.

Zambrano agrees. In fact, he describes what is presently happening in global logistics as “the perfect storm.”

Prime Logistics has substantial shipping industry contacts and relationships to help customers through the tough times, but the path isn’t easy. “We are finding solutions for our customers – albeit, right priced under these converging conditions.”

“My best guess is that recovery may start in 2024 with global shipping returning to some sense of stability,” he stresses, but adds that the worldwide problem is likely going to get worse before it gets better in 2021: “This is the most difficult period ever for the global logistics industry.”

Prime Logistics Standing By as COVID Crisis Continues

As the world works together to continue the fight against the persistent spread of the coronavirus, Prime Logistics is stepping up to do its part by providing expert logistics services to customers who need immediate transport of essential goods, medical supplies, and vaccine products to the most affected areas of the world.

Timing is everything during this crucial period, as variant strains of this deadly virus continue to emerge – and there is no room for error. That’s why government agencies, public and private interests, and logistics providers rely on Prime Logistics staff and representatives who are positioned and ready in key international locations – right now.

Standing by, 24/7, Prime Logistics’ highly capable team of movement managers not only has the necessary expertise to work hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical companies and makers of hospital equipment, but also with most major industry types. Our client portfolio also consists of top makers of aerospace and automotive components, heavy equipment manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers – and of course, distributors of time- and temperature-sensitive perishables.

We are widely respected for our skills in custom creating smart logistics solutions that shorten the shipping process, cut transfer times, and quickly and expertly resolve complications that arise along the way, as they often do.

Prime Logistics is a division of the Prime Group, an international logistics conglomerate founded in 2001 and based in Miami. With a vast network of agents around the globe, Prime Logistics reps are skilled at finding competitive air and ocean rates for your shipment.

Here’s a summary of types of cargo we handle, as well as special services provided worldwide by Prime Logistics:

Industries served:
  • Biotech & Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Supplies
  • AOGs and Aerospace components
  • Perishable commodities
  • Chemicals & Hazardous Material
  • Project Cargos
  • Time-Sensitive Cargo
  • Live Animal
  • Human Remains
  • Military Cargo

Services Available:
  • Pick up
  • Delivery
  • Customs
  • Crating
  • Warehousing
  • Pre-Cooling
  • Valuable Cargo

Big or small – whether it’s one box or multiple pallets, customers team up with Prime Logistics to avoid the need to juggle multiple service providers all over the world. For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

Sizeable Benefits of Shipping by Ocean Freight

Prime Group has long specialized in import logistics and export logistics support for produce and perishables goods such as seafood, flowers, and pharmaceuticals – specialty items that need to be shipped quickly and with maximum “personal” attention paid to freshness and quality.

But not all cargo is time sensitive and needs to reach the customer “tomorrow.” If a transit time of several weeks to a month from point to point is acceptable, then sea freight is the best choice – and Prime Logistics is ready to deliver.

To learn more about Prime Logistics’ growing emphasis on ocean freight services, we sat down with Group Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre. Having joined the Miami-based sales team in March 2020, she’s got vast experience in the ocean cargo side of the business, and is busy working her contacts to expand the company’s reach in this important niche.

Q: Are customers surprised to know that Prime Logistics also has a sales division dedicated to ocean freight?

Yulieth: Prime Logistics is synonymous with air cargo transport, yes, but as a full-service provider of global shipping and handling, a growing number of our customers also rely on us to get their products where they need go when rapid delivery isn’t the top priority.

Q: Why do customers pick ocean freight?

Yulieth: When determining the best mode of transport, shippers and forwarders not only consider how fast they need delivery, but they also factor in price. As you know, airfreight shipment is considerably more expensive than the same volume of sea freight cargo. So, essentially, it comes down to the nature of the freight, the time frame, and how much the shipper is willing and able to spend.

  1. So why join Prime Logistics right when the pandemic first hit?

Yulieth: Because most global logistics companies were designated “essential businesses,” such as those under the Prime Group umbrella, we continued operating for customers who needed us most – in addition to the new customers involved in the worldwide emergency response. As a result, air cargo space was at a premium, and a lot of resources were put toward meeting that demand.

But throughout this entire period, cargo like computers and other high-demand non-perishable commodities were still moving by ocean freight – especially food. People have got to eat! Vessels were still going to the same countries on the same itineraries carrying pineapples, avocados, mangos, and dry goods from companies such as a Goya and Iberia. In fact, we are now working to get more business from Iberia.

We are also working with customers who ship massive volumes of e-commerce goods like electronics, cosmetics, apparel, and home goods. Other good candidates to ship by sea freight are heavy equipment, cranes, and project cargoes. And, of course, we are also still moving medical equipment and supplies.

Q: So what do you bring to the Prime Logistics team?

Yulieth: I’ve got 20 years of experience in ocean freight – more than I want to admit to! But as a result, I am able to serve as the perfect ally for our customers because I have a clear understanding of the business and the processes involved. I am always able to find the right balance between service quality, cost components, reliability of the service provider, and time frames involved.

To be effective, it’s important to know the market, as well as how to ensure the customer doesn’t incur unnecessary charges due to improper or untimely documentation. I optimize routing, match the customer with the best mode of shipment, and due to long-term professional relationships with service providers, I achieve the best freight rates.

Q: Are there any downsides to using ocean freight that you have to explain to customers?

Yulieth: There are so many benefits to ocean shipping, but yes, customers should know of the challenge in predicting and controlling the shipping timelines due to circumstances like congestion at sea ports, which can end up causing delays and additional costs. Natural disasters also can wreak havoc on shipping patters and schedules. But we are very good at preparing for, monitoring, and responding to those real threats.

Q: What’s the market for ocean freight looking like at present?

Yulieth: Typically, August and into the fall is the annual peak season for ocean shipping. In recent years, however, a summertime peak period also has emerged in advance back-to-school demand. That didn’t happen last year of course, due to the pandemic, but it appears we are slowly getting back on track with this general trend. And although it is still summer now, we already have our eye on the peak holiday period ahead.

About Prime Logistics

One of the four main divisions of Prime Group, an international import-export logistics conglomerate founded in Ecuador in 2001, Prime Logistics streamlines, optimizes, and expedites freight to and from the U.S. for a wide range of major industries.

With offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Bogota, Quito, and Amsterdam, Prime Logistics capitalizes on its long-time relationships with the major air carriers and ocean lines, so it may offer competitive rates and ample space to destinations all around the world.

Prime Logistics Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre may be reached at salesmanager@primelogisticsgroup.com. For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primelogisticsgroup.com.

Warming up to the Prospect of Surviving Disasters along the Cold Supply Chain

With the corporate headquarters of the Prime Group based in Miami, we are keenly aware of the prospect of major storms disrupting our operations – and especially right now as the Atlantic hurricane season is upon us.

But beyond the potential physical-plant threats to businesses along “Hurricane Alley,” the impact of a disaster on a global logistics enterprise here can easily extend to all corners of the globe. That’s because today’s supply chain is more tightly interconnected than ever.

As successful supply chain operators in the field of perishables, vaccines, and multiple other sensitive commodities, our subsidiary companies Prime Logistics and Prime Fresh Handling are certainly no strangers to dealing with risk. And while climatologists don’t expect this hurricane season to be as busy as 2021, it only takes one storm to test their ability to respond to fast changing conditions.

We’ve long known that what truly counts is #1 smart planning; #2 ability to adapt, and; #3 the use of new technologies.

Disasters of a Different Color
Of course Mother Nature doesn’t account for all disasters. In addition to sustaining snowstorms, hurricanes, and the recent California fires, this 1-2-3 approach to survival also comes to play in managing through manmade disasters. Civil and labor unrest, cyber-attacks, piracy, major utility failures, terrorism, and other “critical events” are also among the panoply of catastrophes that can take a stress a business to the breaking point if not managed right.

Smart Planning
Using extreme weather as a model, each incident large or small, provides a lesson for supply chains to be better prepared for the next. This includes scenario mapping, inventory tracking, and close collaboration with peers, customers, suppliers, and vendors.

In the Florida market, the first step to in preparing for the coming hurricane season is blow the dust off that old familiar maxim: It’s not a question of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.”

Constant monitoring of conditions and continual risk analysis become the basic tools in minimizing operational impact. There is no single rule of thumb to know the degree to which a critical event may or may not affect your operation, which is why preparation is key. But we do know is there is no margin for error, especially on the cold supply food chain.

Adaptability
In the face of a storm, natural or otherwise, the right decisions have to be made – be it re-routing product in transit, slowing or halting the movement of cargo to and from seaports, or just knowing when to hunker down and ride it out.

A couple years back, a storm heading straight at South Florida was showing telltale signs of becoming a major hurricane. In light of this, one steamship line decided to halt a sailing for several days – but with tens-of-thousands of dollars in worth of time and temperature sensitive product onboard, this was now becoming customer-relations disaster all its own.

By working with the supplier to quickly unload the merchandise, we were able to find another ship that was doing an earlier sailing. As a result, the customer was spared a major loss of product, and all the insurance claim hassles that would entail.

Successful logistics providers are smart to know that when coupled together, forecasting and adaptability are key to maintaining solid relationships in the perishables and medical supply and vaccines industries, as well as to the integrity of the entire cold supply chain.

Planning and resiliency also go hand in hand. So as natural disasters and wildfires continue to grow both in frequency and intensity, it further underscores the necessity of having a well-conceived business-resiliency plan in place.

And now add to that list, worldwide pandemics.

No matter the source of the disruption, unexpected shifts in supply and demand call for flexibility among all parties: producers, shippers, retailers, and consumers. The COVID-19 crisis not only revealed major vulnerabilities in the worldwide food system, its ripple effects were felt across the entire chain, from farm to pantry shelf.

By employing an impact analysis coupled with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, we can better respond to such disruptions – while at the same time have a better chance at maintaining continuous business operations and protecting  product and assets.

But at the end of the day, it is immensely important to have an expert logistics provider on your side like Prime Logistics or Prime Fresh Handling offering consistently smart and creative solutions – not excuses.

Technology
Smarts come with experience. It also comes as a result of using the latest innovations in technology.

The wave of the future for industries across all business sectors is artificial intelligence (AI). Within the specialized food distribution arena, this is particularly exciting because of the role AI is going to play in preparing for natural and manmade disasters.

As we progress deeper into the automated world of AI, hopefully predictive information on natural disasters will help buyers, food distribution companies, and logistic vendors not just make delivery more intelligent, but to maintain the freshness of product across the entire cold supply chain.

For more than 20 years, our customers have depended on us to be smart, nimble, and intuitive problem solvers – and we will continue to be there for them in the best and worst of times.

~ CEO Roger Paredes

Ensuring that Vaccines Become Vaccinations Remains Our Critical Mission

In 2020, the entire world’s priority mission was to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. But even now, as we enter the second half of 2021, infection rates continue to rise, with global deaths about to top the 4 million mark, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And though more than 2.75 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide – equal to 36 for every 100 people – in dozens of poor countries, inoculation has barely started.

Brazil just recently surpassed 500,000 COVID deaths, more than any country but the U.S.; and a COVID surge is now happening across Africa, where more contagious variants are spreading fast. Meanwhile, a growing number of countries are allowing – even encouraging – people to get two different vaccines, rather than two shots of the same one, in hopes of boosting the immune response.

Clearly the virus-fighting mission remains as critical as ever. Quick, efficient, and safe distribution of tens of millions of additional doses of those life-saving vaccines and medical supplies must remain a priority in order to support the massive immunization of people on every continent on the planet.

 Global Logistics Companies Doing Their Part

Worldwide logistics firms, such as Prime Logistics thus remain at “ground zero” in helping to stop the spread of the virus, by ensuring vaccines move door-to-door while maintaining their efficacy – from manufacturer to airport to the last mile.

Since the very first vaccine was administered in the UK in December 2020, it was understood that delivering coronavirus vaccines would be an astounding task. By some estimates, more than 10 billion doses will still need to be delivered to all regions of the world over the next two years.

Ultimately, as a global community, the goal is to turn vaccines into vaccinations – and failure is not an option. That’s why Prime Logistics remains well positioned and ready to play a vital role in providing the best supply-chain transport and logistics possible.

 Cold Supply Chain at the Forefront of Vaccine Logistics

The cold chain is at the forefront of vaccine logistics. The coronavirus vaccines have strict temperature requirements that must be maintained throughout the supply chain. An important part of adhering to the requirements is ample freezer capacity and monitoring systems that ensure product temperatures don’t get too high or too low. These are service lines where Prime Logistics and its network of partners around the world excel.

All across the globe, we are now handling multi-faceted, highly complex logistics services and carefully mapping out the transportation of vaccine shipments from manufacturing sites to land-based transportation, onto airline and cargo flights, and into temperature-controlled holding facilities. From there, the vaccines await pick-up by delivery services on the local level for distribution to hospitals and clinics.

Prime Logistics knows that few other missions than the worldwide delivery of vaccines is more important. For every day that goes by without the maximum number of people being vaccinated, more lives are at risk. We are very grateful they we’re able to utilize our expertise in shipment and handling of cold-pack, perishable goods to help save lives.

The critical mission is clear. Global control of this pandemic cannot be achieved until and unless the vaccines get into the hands – and arms – of people in every corner of the world. We’re very proud to be doing our part.