“The service is excellent, delivery is relatively fast, and the equipment is unbelievably great,” he said. “I think it has a bright future.”
Waiting it out
But Providence, R.I.-based United Natural Foods Inc., parent company of Albert’s Organics, isn’t ready to hop aboard the intermodal bandwagon just yet — at least not for most fresh fruits and vegetables, said Kristin Lacoste, director of inbound logistics.
The company uses intermodal for about 1,100 loads a month but not for fresh produce, she said.
But the company is waiting for the railroads to lay more track and develop better transit times before committing fresh produce to rail, she said.
Rail shipments take about a day longer than trucks, she said, and that can make a difference for fragile items like lettuce or fruit.
Lacoste said she “would definitely entertain” the possibility of using intermodal for items like potatoes or onions. Bananas currently are the only fresh produce item the company ships by rail.
Nonetheless, Finkbiner anticipates good things for the intermodal industry.
“If we didn’t see a great future, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.