InTrans / Jan 29, 2015

The journey of bananas: Fruitful exploration

Go! Magazine

Shipposted on January 29, 2015

In our last article of this series, you learned how bananas got from the farm to the shipping port in “The journey of bananas: From land to your hand.” This article explores the how bananas travel from the port of Costa Rica to your local store.

Our story begins at Port Manatee near Tampa, Florida, which is Del Monte’s second largest US port facility. Port Manatee is located just inland from the Gulf of Mexico (on the coast). Del Monte’s imports make them one of Port Manatee’s largest tenants. In our story, we are trying to understand who helps get the bananas from the Costa Rican port to a US grocery store.

Distance from Costa Rica to Port Manatee.One company, Logistec Corporation, helps move the shipment containers of Del Monte bananas to your local store, but a key player in making sure the bananas stay on track is the transportation logistic planner. Before we dive into the career path of a transportation logistic planner, we must first understand a bit of the history behind banana travel, which goes back over a century.

Bananas are not easy travelers!

Bananas are not easy travelers by any means. First, they must be harvested while they are green in order to be sure that they will arrive to the store in good condition. Second, since they bruise easily, everyone from the farm to store must try to limit their contact with the bananas. Lastly, bananas only really have two weeks from when they are harvested before they should be sold. Bananas require a lot of attention to get to the store in perfect condition.

Knowing that bananas require so much energy and care to transport, how early do you think banana travel started?

Beginnings of banana travel

The ability for the bananas to be shipped internationally was due to the invention of refrigeration that was first introduced in the 1840s. This also helped speed up global trade of many temperature-sensitive foods such as meat and fruit. The first successful refrigerated shipment was in 1882, which was a shipment that carried meat.

A reefer ship, Dole Honduras, unloading a container of bananas
A reefer ship, Dole Honduras, unloading a container of bananas. Photo from Wikipedia.

The first successful reefer ship (refrigerated cargo ship) carrying bananas went from Jamaica to the United Kingdom in 1901. One company, United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) built boats starting in 1902 that carried both passengers and bananas between the United States and Central America. Since commercial flights didn’t really begin widely until post World War II (1945), there was a good reason why people were willing to travel on a banana boat:they didn’t have any other realistic travel options!

Today’s banana travel

In today’s banana travel, the process relies heavily on technology to reduce any inefficiencies in the supply chain from farm to store. One key person helping the bananas move are transportation logistic planners. They help coordinate the loading and unloading of the bananas from the shipment vessels at the port. Not only do they manage the overall work team and ensure the health and safety of the workers, but they use computers to track the shipments.

The Cloud and transportation logistics

Del Monte relies on the Cloud for tracking their products from farm to store. When the transportation logistics planner puts information about individual containers’ location into the Cloud, this increases inventory access (reducing waste), increases shipping timing and accuracy, improves customer service, reduces transportation costs, and ultimately, increases profits.

Did you know?

  • The Cloud is a way of using the internet to access important information such as stored files, emails, etc. If you have ever used “Google Drive,” that is a part of the Cloud.

Related links

By Jackie Nester, Go! Staff Writer

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