In the Northwest, where environmentalism and sustainability are more than just mantras, some wholesalers have been turning to alternative fuel trucks.
“Every truck in our fleet is running on some sort of biodiesel,” said Tom Lively, a senior executive at Organically Grown Co-op, Eugene, Ore.
Whether or not a distributor or trucking company can adopt trucks that get better mileage depends on several factors.
“Trucking companies, if they’re healthy enough to make the switch to more fuel-efficient vehicles, they’re looking at it,” said Ron Haas, owner of R&R Brokerage Inc., Portland, Ore. “But there’s a cost factor and the whole market can’t be switched overnight. Wholesalers are looking at it, too. With the economy, the cost of the switchover is prohibitive, so it’s a double-edged sword.”
United Salad Co., Portland, continues to put an emphasis on fuel efficiency when upgrading its delivery fleet, said Ernie Spada Jr., vice president and owner.
“Every year we buy new trucks,” Spada said. “It’s a two-pronged deal. One, it’s the right thing to do as far as emissions go. Two, it’s good for fuel economy.”
While some manufacturers are touting electric trucks, Spada does not believe they are a viable option as of yet.
“Most of our trucks go too far every day,” he said. “Could we have a single electric truck for in-town deliveries? Sure. But to be a big component in our fleet, I don’t think the battery technology is there yet. I’m sure it’s coming.”
Lon Hudson, organics sales specialist at L&M Cos. Inc., Selah, Wash., said he has noticed that more than just one or two wholesalers are going to alternative-fuel trucks, as well as adopting smarter delivery schedules.
“Some wholesalers are using biodiesel and reducing the amount of pickups so they don’t have so many partials,” Hudson said, adding that he thought that mentality would continue to grow.