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Optimizing Freight Transportation Operations for Beverage Shippers


How Beverage Shippers Can Optimize Their Freight Transportation Operations

Not all freight shipping is the same, and those in the beverage sector know this especially well. When shipping beverage freight, it’s essential to understand what makes moving this product unique in order to ensure that logistics costs are managed correctly and deliveries arrive on time.

How Different Beverage Types Can Impact Shipping Strategies

In the beverage industry, the main drink categories (water, soda, juice, energy drinks, and alcohol) all have their own characteristics and can require different shipping solutions as a result. For example, some products will require a temperature-controlled or reefer trailer as opposed to a dry van. Transporting drinks during the winter months can be challenging as well since many beverages are susceptible to freezing if they are not shipped in a temperature-controlled trailer.

The retail value of the beverage product being shipped is important as well. Energy drinks, for example, are often targeted by thieves because these beverages have a high resale value. Because of this, it’s crucial for energy drink companies to ensure the carriers they work with have security procedures and reliable track and trace technology to provide enhanced protection for their freight.

Some beverage products, like bottled water, typically operate on low profit margins, which means the cost of transportation as well as potential unexpected delivery fees are major concerns for shippers of this beverage type. Conversely, companies with higher-margin products (like energy drinks and juices) that have a larger transportation budget, may instead prioritize delivery speed and care during transport.

Many types of beverages are also impacted by seasonality which leads to peaks and valleys of demand. This seasonality can affect costs, service, and capacity at certain times of the year. The point is that a company must understand its products individually and how these factors can impact their shipping operations in order to run an efficient beverage supply chain.

The Importance of Proper Loading

As with any freight, beverage products need to be loaded onto a trailer in the correct way in order to withstand transport and be able to make it safely to their destination. The packaging for pallets, the pattern used for loading pallets onto the trailer, and the weight distribution on the trailer are all things that should be considered when shipping beverage freight.

For the most part, drinks will ‘weigh-out’ (exceed a trailer’s weight limit) far before they will ‘cube-out’ (take up all the space in the trailer). This means the spacing and placement of pallets needs to be precisely planned out to ensure a safe and damage-free ride. When it comes to OS&D (over, short, and damaged) issues, loads shifting during transit is a significant problem, and it’s easy to picture how messy and problematic that can be when it happens.

Since many beverage shipments will require multi-stop deliveries, proper route planning is important as well. This is why it is important for companies to keep a wholistic view of all deliveries in mind when planning, so they can find the optimal balance of cost and transit time and ensure all deliveries are made on schedule.

Understanding Consignees

Another common and extremely important part of shipping beverage products is working with and meeting the requirements of the consignees at the locations where the freight is being delivered. For many beverage companies, possible fees that can occur when deliveries are being made can hurt their profit margins. The potential costs for lumper services and delivery delays that result in detention charges are additional expenses shippers should be aware of when moving their freight.

Retailers, especially big-box retailers, coordinate a tremendous amount of inbound products—beverage or otherwise. This means they have many processes in place to keep their operations moving efficiently. It’s critical for all types of shippers to be familiar with and adhere to these processes in order to avoid fines or other issues.

At Echo, We’re Here to Help

With beverage shipping, there is an extra level of care that needs to be taken in transit, as well as at most delivery locations. For beverage shippers, this makes it all the more important to work with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider that deeply understands the supply chain and the complexities of beverage shipping.

At Echo Global Logistics, we have extensive experience in managing transportation for beverage clients, moving over 35,000 food and beverage shipments each year. Echo offers a suite of multimodal transportation solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of beverage shippers. This, coupled with our proprietary technology that simplifies complex logistics processes, allows us to transport our clients’ beverage freight with the special care and attention required. We also have strong relationships with retail consignees and have standing delivery appointments at nearly all national and regional grocer distribution centers.

Echo’s leading beverage shipping solutions have been recognized in the industry as well. For the fourth time, Echo was named a Top 3PL & Cold Storage Provider by Food Logistics, the industry's only publication dedicated to food and beverage supply chains.

To learn more about our beverage shipping solutions and book a shipment with Echo, contact a representative today at 800-354-7993 or, or request a quote for a shipment.