(May 16) MONTREAL — When a trucker and a receiver have a beef, parties involved could use a mediator.

The Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp. hopes it can help bridge the divide.

At the Transportation Best Practices business session at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Montreal May 11, DRC consultant Patrick Haneman said the organization is establishing a transportation arm that would help resolve disputes, which are common in the produce industry.

Transportation disputes are not covered by the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act or the Canadian Food Inspection agency, and the DRC thinks the arm is a good fit with its current programs, Hanemann said.

“Transportation is critically important to the success of all other elements within the produce industry,” he said.

Because produce is not a cargo of choice for carriers, Hanemann said it is important to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

From the transportation side of the business, Michel Lapointe, safety, compliance and risk director for Danfreight Systems Inc., Joliette, Quebec, said receivers would benefit from developing long-term relationships with a core group of carriers, treating them like a partner in the business by respecting their role and being courteous, and reasonable with rates.

“Don’t treat transportation as a profit center,” he said. “You need to pay a fair rate.”

From a retailer’s point of view, Larry Kieswetter, senior director of produce procurement for Toronto-based Loblaws Cos., said consistent execution of loading procedures — pulping cartons and verifying temperatures — is critical.

“One thing always holds true when poor product arrives at our door — the retailer is not the cause,” Kieswetter said.

Retailers also need to know as soon as possible when a driver is going to be late arriving to be able to fill shorts, he said.

Savvas Tsoukalas, Canadian regional director for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., said if something does happen and a load needs to be rejected, the first thing a driver and receiver should do is notify all parties of the problem and document everything.