9 Important Things To Know Before You Ship Agricultural Products
Shipping commodities from wherever you are to many parts of the world comes with a lot of perks, conditions, and guidelines to always adhere to to ensure you have a smooth operation.
Whether you’re exporting solid minerals, agricultural produce, or petroleum products, there are standards you must adhere to that will ensure everything goes right with the shipment, and as such, you must follow a set of laid down best practices from start to finish.
But while shipping minerals and petroleum products could be done easier, handling agricultural products have to come with even greater care as a small mistake could ruin the entire consignment before it reaches the delivery destination.
If you currently ship or plan to ship food-based products, here are 9 important things you must know when shipping agricultural products:
1). The Moisture Must Be Below 10%:
High moisture levels are one of the fastest ways to ruin agricultural products. When the moisture levels of most agro commodities are higher than 10%, their qualities start to deteriorate quickly, and as such, the entire consignment could get spoilt within 2 to 3 weeks, causing the importer and/or exporter to lose their entire investments.
Before you export any agricultural product, ensure the goods are well dried and that the moisture content is lower than 10% or you’re risking the entire commodities getting spoilt before arrival at the delivery port.
2). You Must Fumigate The Shipping Container:
Insects destroy and thrive in the presence of most agricultural products. They see it as a bountiful meal, and so would reproduce and consume as much as possible of the products as they possibly can if left unattended.
Before you ship any agricultural consignment, ensure the container is fumigated with a fumigation gel, and that the gel is removed from the container after a maximum of 3 days of sealing the container.
If the goods arrive at the port of delivery with insect infestation, the products would be destroyed by the customs there and you’d be responsible for all costs involved.
3). The Chemical Compositions Must Match The Agreed Specifications:
When an agreement for the supply of agricultural produce is effected by an importer and an exporter, a set of quality specifications are usually agreed upon, and depending on what the importer plans to use the goods for, some chemical specifications would be agreed on.
If you’re shipping agricultural products based on an agreed set of chemical compositions, it is important that you ensure the goods you’re shipping matches the specifications, else, you should simply just agree to physical inspection.
To ensure you don’t make a procurement mistake, first take small samples of the goods you want to buy for testing in a local lab before you commit to purchasing the whole products.
4). You Must Use The Right Packaging Method For The Product:
Various agro commodities require various packaging standards. Some require they’re packed in cans, others in jute bags, some in mesh bags, and the vast majority in ppe bags.
Understanding the quality of goods you’re shipping and the packaging standards that are required is key to ensuring you don’t damage the goods with the way they are packaged and to ensure you also meet the packaging standards of the country you’re shipping too.
5). The Goods Must Be Transported In The Right Shipping Container:
Depending on whether you’re shipping fresh foods or dry foods, you need to stuff the commodities in the right type of shipping container.
If you’re shipping fresh (hundred) agricultural products, you’d need to load the goods in a reefer container. This container is like a freezer and cools the goods all the way until it gets to its destination, although it is far more expensive to use.
But if you’re shipping dry food, you would simply use a general-purpose shipping container for your consignment.
6). Understand The Food Regulations Of The Country You’re Shipping Too:
Every nation has food regulations that it adheres to. Usually, European countries all adhere to the same rules, but each country could have varying differences in some other conditions.
In the same way, countries in many parts of the world could use the same or varying conditions to govern their food regulations, and as such, every exporter shipping agricultural products must know what these regulations are and must prepare the goods to meet them, or risk the cargo being seized at the destination port.
To be on a safe side, ask that your importer gives you all the required conditions he wants for the products, and ensure you sign into the contract that he’s responsible for everything that goes on at his destination port provided you’ve met all the terms you agreed to at the origin port.
7). Get All The Documents Required For Exporting Agricultural Products:
When shipping agricultural products, you are usually required to provide a set of documents. The most popular are:
- Phytosanitary Certificate
- Fumigation Certificate
- Inspection Certificate
- Veterinary Certificate (depending on the country and product)
These documents are usually required by the customs at the destination country to clear the goods, and as such, you must provide them for your importer anytime you’re shipping agricultural products to them.
8). Dress The Shipping Container With Carton Walls, Floors, & Desiccants:
When a container shipping agricultural produce is being used, the floors and walls must be dressed with carton paper to avoid contamination with the contact of the products with the metal surface of the container.
Also, you must hang desiccants, popularly known as dry bags, in the walls of the shipping container. What these dry bags would do is to control the moisture absorption rate of the container and also try to reduce the moisture rate of the goods in the container.
The more desiccants you hang in the shipping container, the better moisture control you have for your products, and the more confidence you have in the quality of the goods upon delivery.
Personally, I advise you to hang a minimum of 10 dry bags in a 20 ft container and 15 dry bags in a 40 ft container.
9). Use A Shipping Agent Experienced In Forwarding Agricultural Products:
Lastly, it is important that you use a shipping agent who is vastly experienced in handling the forwarding of agricultural products from your port of origin. This is important to avoid issues of incomplete documentation, poor container preparation, and other negative experiences that can be caused by inexperience.
An experienced shipping agent will ensure you’re doing everything right, will take care of procuring all the required tools for the shipping, and will ensure you have a seamless/fast shipping experience.
What are your thoughts on these 9 important things you must know before shipping agricultural products? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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