As any produce shipper will tell you, to succeed in the produce business, where harvest dates depend on Mother Nature and freshness is vital, you need an agile supply chain. More than that, you need one that's simple, efficient, and sustainable.
That realization led Melon 1, the nation's largest watermelon grower and shipper, to embark on an effort to streamline its operations in 1999. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., the company ships watermelons nationwide from packing sheds and other distribution points on the East Coast. Given the complexity of its distribution network, the company was confident that even minor efficiency improvements could bring a big payoff.
The search for supply chain efficiencies led the watermelon grower to a partnership with global pallet pooling specialist CHEP. Melon 1, which had previously used disposable pallets, joined CHEP's pallet pooling network, a program that allows companies to rent or lease pallets from a shared pool. Among other advantages, the move freed Melon 1 from the burden of acquiring, storing, staging, and disposing of pallets. Rich Chastain, co-owner of Melon 1, said in a statement that the partnership plays an essential role in simplifying the supply chain, helping Melon 1 achieve both time and cost savings.
Just as importantly, the move has allowed the company to make its operations more sustainable. Between 2009 and 2017, the company says, it kept nearly 1.7 million pounds of solid waste out of landfills and reduced carbon emissions by nearly 1.3 million pounds, which is equivalent to taking 1.3 million passenger cars off the road for one year.
That's not the end of the story, however. In February, Melon 1 announced that it was expanding its partnership with CHEP to include on-site pallet storage, a program that allows customers to store CHEP pallets at their locations for immediate accessibility.
In addition to further streamlining the supply chain, the on-site storage has brought Melon 1 peace of mind, the company says. If the harvest yields a larger-than-expected supply, also known as a bumper crop, Melon 1 has CHEP pallets readily available. In fiscal year 2018, the company plans to store more than 100,000 CHEP pallets at eight East Coast locations.