While Veritable Vegetable reviews all the latest on-vehicle technologies in its efforts to reduce fuel consumption, it does not stop there. Adams is constantly looking at the efficiency in routing as well.
“We always look for the shortest distance between two points,” she says, adding that traffic conditions, particularly for drivers hauling into Los Angeles and Phoenix, are always a concern. “We have shifted lately to have the trucks leave earlier. In fact, we’ve shifted everything including the warehouse operations to get the trucks out earlier. ... That change has happened over the last couple of years.”
Veritable Vegetable is also certified to backhaul. So while its trucks may head to a delivery point full of organic produce, they may return stacked with micro-brews. “We do a fair amount [of backhauls] and we’re trying to build up that business,” Adams says, “because [it makes no sense to] have a truck that’s empty when you can have it full.”
And because the trailers are kept at 38-40 deg. F, almost any commodity, including dry freight, can be mixed with produce. “It’s really an ideal shipping temperature,” Howard says. Hauling all that produce, though, requires a large number of pallets. To reduce costs and improve the environment, Veritable Vegetable now utilizes mostly reusable plastic pallets. “They’re recycled plastic,” says Adams. “When we make a delivery, there is a charge on the invoice for pallet return.” In most cases, Adams points out, the pallet exchange results in an even swap as drivers will pick up unused pallets in a 1 to 1 ratio with dropped pallets.