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Cold Supply Chain: Liability & Label and Marking Considerations, Final Part in Series of 3

In this final part of my series on the Cold Supply Chain, I will discuss considerations for export liability, as well as label and marking considerations in the import/export process of shipping food and frozen food. Part 1 discussed temperature, sanitization, and traceability considerations, where part 2 covered quality specifications and the definitions of the elements and processes of the export process.

It takes a special expertise to pull off with skill and accuracy all while maintaining costs and mitigtating risks. It's vital to understand the entire process, best practices, and considerations within the cold supply chain in order to stay in line with the FDA's requirements in the Food & Safety Modernization Act.

NOTE: Thomasholmes is a third party logistics company who specializes in freight management via LTL, TL, and Small Package freight modes. Thomasholmes has many affiliates who can assist in the process of the cold supply chain in the way of warehousing and international import/export. However, Thomasholmes can help you in our North American freight management needs with technology via their transportation management software for LTL and Small Package freight, and has a truckload freight division to handle full truckload shipments.

Export Liability, Physical Export Requirements, and Label & Marking Considerations in the Cold Supply Chain

Export Liability

Export shipments are insured against loss, damage, and delay in transit by CARGO INSURANCE.Depending on the terms of sale, the cargo insurance may be made by either the buyer or seller. The responsibilities of the buyer and seller are based on the negotiated incoterms: If the customer purchases FOB (Free on Board): ex-works, the customer pays for the insurance, freight and all other export costs. If other FOB arrangements are made, the seller pays the insurance: FOB CIF: Cost, Insurance and Freight.

Damaging weather conditions, rough handling by carriers, and other common hazards to cargo make MARINE INSURANCE important protection for exporters. If the terms of sale make the firm responsible for instance, it should either purchase its own insurance policy or insure cargo under the freight forwarders policy for a fee. Even if the insurance burden is on the buyer, the seller should not assume (or take the buyer’s word) that adequate insurance has been obtained. If the buyer neglects to obtain insurance coverage or obtains too little, damage to the cargo may cause major financial loss to the exporter of record.

Insurance coverage has to be on a door-to-door basis to protect you if you are responsible for insurance coverage to protect the shipment.

  • Shelf life and staying within the temperature requirements to avoid frozen food damage.
  • An “inside” hint from experience in import/export: When negotiating with the insurance company/ forwarder/vessel ask for “bottom stowage” on the vessel. This will eliminate container “wash out” on the vessel in high seas storms and can reduce your insurance rates if you send a letter to the insurance company requesting “bottom stowage.”

The terms and conditions of the purchase agreement: Purchase Order/ Purchasing Agreement, should have detailed Terms and Conditions to protect ACS in a court of law should that ever occur.  If the Supplier has terms and conditions in their documents, and you do not, the case will be automatically won by the supplier.

*See theft/pilferage avoidance below under physical export requirements.

Meet FDA/USDA Certification requirements: Electronic Export Information (see above under export food documentation).

Shelf life considerations: temperature management to insure proper shelf life of the frozen food. Breakage, weight, moisture and pilferage

All necessary documentation outlined above.

Physical Export Requirements in the Cold Supply Chain

Since proper packing is essential in exporting, often the customer specifies packing requirements. If the buyer does not so specify, be sure the goods are prepared with the following considerations in mind:

  • Pack in strong containers, adequately sealed and filled when possible.
  • To provide proper export bracing (called dunnage) in the container, regardless of size, make sure the weight is evenly distributed: work with the forwarder/vessel personnel as the container could rock back and forth.
  • Goods should be packed in ocean going containers, if possible, or on pallets to ensure greater ease in handling. Packages and packing filler should be made of moisture-resistant material.
  • To avoid pilferage, avoid mentioning contents or brand names on packages. In addition, strapping, seals, and shrink wrap are effective means of deterring theft.
  • You can consult with your marine insurance/ freight forwarder/supplier/carrier on their ideas for packaging of frozen foods. (There may be a moderate cost for this consultation.)
  • High test (at least 250 pounds per square inch) cardboard or tri-wall construction boxes are more than adequate.
  • Because transportation costs are determined by volume and weight, special reinforced and lightweight packing materials have been devised for exporting. Care in packing goods to minimize volume and weight while giving strength may well save money ensuring that goods are properly packed.
  • Know the weight (lbs. or kgs) and dimensions (in. or cm) of the cartons/boxes/pallets you are exporting.  Always state the commodity on all necessary documentation.

Export Labeling & Markings Considerations in the Cold Supply Chain

  • Specific marking and labeling is used on export shipping cartons and containers to: meet shipping regulations and, ensure proper handling.
  • Labels are used to conceal the identity of the contents.
  • Labels help receivers identify the shipment.
  • At times your customer has specific labeling instructions. If they do not give them to you, you should ask the customer about their labeling and packaging specifications/instructions.
  • Export marks: Shipper’s mark, country of origin (exporter’s country 0. Weight marking (in pounds and in kilograms), number of packages and size of cases (in inches and centimeters), handling marks (international pictorial symbols), cautionary markings, such as (“this side up, or “use no Hooks” (in English and in the country of destination), port of entry and labels for hazardous materials.

Because the goods are being shipped by unknown carriers to distant customers, the exporter must be sure to follow all shipping requirements to help ensure that the merchandise is packed correctly so it arrives in good condition, labeled correctly to ensure that goods are  handled properly and arrive on time and at the right place, documented correctly to meet local and foreign government requirements as well as proper collection standards and insured against damage, loss and pilferage, and in some cases, delay.

Your questions or input are welcome, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to email me or .

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Chuck Intrieri

3PL Consultant at
Mr. Chuck Intrieri is a highly experienced and credentialed Supply Chain Management professional and is a recognized thought leader and innovator, primarily in the areas of Supply Chain Optimization, LEAN initiatives, Operations, Manufacturing, Third Party Logistics (3PL) International Purchasing/Importing, Inventory Management and Logistics, Strategic Sourcing, and Procurement Operations.
Chuck Intrieri

Chuck Intrieri

Chuck Intrieri

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