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Why Food Companies Love New York

Image of fruit and vegetables on a picnic table.

New Yorkers are hungry for locally-grown foods, but the ingredients in the average American meal travel about 1,500 miles. Farm-to-table initiatives can help, but the supply chain for food is both nationwide and international. Distribution networks mean jobs, and that’s why states compete for supply chain nodes like intermodal distribution centers. So how well does NYS fare when companies make siting decisions?
In a recent article for Area Development, a leading industrial real estate professional examines what food companies need to succeed. John Vaught, a Senior Vice President for Transwestern, emphasizes the importance of proximity and the role of rail. Sustainability, the availability of seasonal labor, and support for advanced shipping notification (ASM) are also essential.
“Proximity to suppliers,” Vaught writes, “is often a primary driver when sensitive products like fruits and produce are involved in manufacturing.” Crops in cold-weather states won’t grow outdoors in wintertime, but intermodal distribution facilities provide flexibility in siting decisions. Produce that’s picked and shipped from the farms of Florida can be ripened and processed nearer to major markets in the Northeast.
Shipping fresh fruits and vegetables presents its own set of challenges, however. Nationally, there’s a shortage of long-haul truck drivers. Oil prices are lower than they have been in years, but food companies still need to control fuel costs. Rail transport takes about the same amount of time as trucking, but can save shippers as much as 25%. Advances in refrigeration technology also make railcars cost-competitive.
Railex service between Rotterdam, New York and two West Coast hubs proves Vaughn’s point. With 225,000 sq. ft. of refrigerated space, 14 enclosed refrigerated rail docks, and 41 refrigerated truck docks, Railex Northeast supports more than just five-day, coast-to-coast, non-stop transport. The Railex facility in Rotterdam services major cities in the U.S. Northeast, but without the rail congestion of metropolitan areas.
How can other parts of New York State benefit from the renaissance of rail, and the nation’s trans-continental food distribution network?
Image Credit: © ZoomTeam/Dollar Photo Club


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