By Cain Adams
Trinity Logistics Boise L1 Office / Longboard Logistics, LLC.
Artwork created by Cain Adams
As my family and I traveled, in our beat-up RV heading south for a Thanksgiving adventure, the anticipation grew, especially for the much-awaited stop at In & Out Burger in Salt Lake City. “Are we there yet?’ Is all I heard for a good 80 miles. “20 more minutes” is what I would repeat every 5 minutes. Each town, all the way to San Diego, I would hear the same chirp. “Dad, is there an In & Out here?” As an avid onion aficionado, choosing the Animal Style burger was a no-brainer for me. Those juicy, delicious onions, sourced straight from Idaho, are not just ingredients to me; they represent the backbone of American agriculture and the hardworking farmers behind every bite.
Every time we visit a grocery store or dine out, I make sure my kids understand and appreciate the journey of food from farm to fork. I have cool kids. “Dad, did you get a truck to bring these in here?” Take, for instance, the Blooming Onion at Texas Roadhouse – it is a product of a complex journey involving farmers, shippers, truckers, and cold storage facilities. It is a journey that creates jobs and fosters a sense of pride and community. Each one is placed on a table and there is a little wow factor that takes place. And if a customer saw what makes it all happen, I am sure there would be a second wow.
Visiting an onion shed can be an eye-opening experience, revealing the intricate processes and investments involved in packaging and shipping. Farmers are crucial in this chain, providing high-quality products despite the ever-changing growing conditions and market dynamics. Like a hurricane in Mexico?
In the last two weeks, the onion market has undergone significant changes. During a recent conversation with Rick Greener, I learned that onion prices have surged rapidly. This increase is attributed to several factors: instability in Mexico, recent hurricanes, and a potentially reduced crop yield in Canada due to a smoky summer. Additionally, there’s been a nationwide imbalance between truck capacity and available freight. This mismatch has triggered a ‘double whammy’ effect, causing freight rates to drop by 50 cents to a dollar per mile. Interestingly, our customers continue to send loads at rates from three weeks ago, leading us to adjust and lower the freight costs. On a positive note, the weather has been better than expected. Wyoming’s passes remain clear, ensuring timely freight delivery. Furthermore, fuel prices are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.
The logistics of transporting produce like onions is a dynamic and challenging field, particularly in recent times with fluctuating freight rates and market demands. As someone deeply involved in this sector, I witness firsthand the impact of these changes on carriers and owner-operators, who are the lifelines of our food supply chain. High closures of trucking companies have banks on high alert to not lend to them. So, belts are tightening. The election year fuel pricing is finally here and it has freight rates across the nation falling fast. How fast? The national average is below $4.00 a gallon for diesel. That’s the lowest level since July. Rates are coming down while we are headed towards Christmas. So Merry Christmas onion growers.
Despite the economic challenges, such as fluctuating diesel prices and high interest rates, I remain optimistic about the future. The resilience of the farming community and their adaptability to market changes are inspiring. The recent drop in fuel prices, for example, is a potential relief for farmers and could positively impact agricultural costs in the coming year. The interest rates have been raised to make more people save cash and reduce inflation. It may seem tough at times but hard work has always made us stronger.
The agriculture and logistics industries are continually evolving. Keep an eye out for changes. Are new packing sheds and farming regions creating deeper competition? Is there enough research happening in the industry? Are stores investing in the farms? Everyone involved is striving for efficiency and profitability. This adaptability is crucial for the sustainability of the industry and for maintaining the supply of beloved products like those served at In & Out Burger.
As I stand in line at the newly opened In & Out Burger in Meridian, Idaho, I’m reminded of the interconnectedness of our community. I see many families standing in this line to enjoy a meal together. This Christmas, let’s cherish the joy of togetherness and appreciate the hard work of our farmers and everyone in the logistics chain. We are all part of a bigger picture, one that feeds and sustains our nation.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a season filled with joy, gratitude, and delicious food. Here’s to the farmers, the truckers, the shippers and the produce brokers and every hand that helps bring food to our tables.
Warm regards, Cain Adams
Many thanks to Cain for sharing his onion artwork this month to recognize onions and the Christmas season. Click the image to enlarge and scroll.