Transport and logistics of spirits, or who transports every fourth bottle of wine in the world.

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Transport and logistics of spirits, or who transports every fourth bottle of wine in the world.

The transport of alcoholic beverages is an increasingly important piece of logistical ‘cake’. In addition to traditional sales, the increase in the volume of online alcohol trading (e.g. UPS) and the direct service of wholesalers and shops (e.g. Sigma, Hartwig) are also important for logistics operators and carriers.

The transport of spirits is included in the transport of food products (the same rules apply), however, due to the specific nature of this product, its transport requires expertise, experience and often also the use of specialist vehicles. During the transport of alcoholic products, it is necessary to observe proper temperature, because its fluctuations may significantly affect the suitability of alcohol for consumption.

The case gets complicated e.g. in the pre-Christmas periods, i.e. in the time of increased freight traffic on the FMCG market. In the case of deliveries of wine or other spirits from distant countries, the deliveries are more individualised during this period – they often consist of several cartons or even bottles. Experts stress that renting a refrigerated container (reefer) or using temperature-controlled packaging would significantly increase costs, sometimes even to a level not acceptable to consumers. This is a challenge for suppliers and carriers. 

Spirits during transport should be properly sorted. Each should be in its own group. In some cases, the transport of spirits may be subject to the provisions of ADR (International Convention concerning the Carriage of Goods and Dangerous Goods by Road). This concerns ethyl alcohol (ethanol, spirits) in the aqueous solution above 24%. It is worth noting, however, that alcoholic beverages of packaging group III (low-risk materials) transported in vessels of up to 250 litres are not subject to ADR regulations.

Spirits transport – the carrier also needs to know the procedures

The basic document when importing alcohol is the permit of the District Sanitary Inspectorate. Transporting alcohol from foreign countries is subject to charges. It is necessary to pay VAT and excise duty (it constitutes the largest part of the market price of the product), as well as customs duty. Knowledge of the procedures in force in this respect is the responsibility of both the shipper and the carrier or logistics operator. It is worth to make sure about it before you start cooperation, so you can avoid problems and ambiguities later on.    

Katarzyna Mochalkina, head of drinks and tobacco logistics at AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG, stressed in a press release that alcohol is usually transported on pallets in Europe. Inside the box, the bottles are fixed in special holes. Therefore, the shipper must be in possession of such packaging. Vibrations may be the cause of load damage, so it is necessary to check the condition of the vehicle.

Wine can also be transported in food tanks, tank containers or big bags. In such cases, only the provision of sterile packaging is required.

Adequate temperature and flexibility needed

The temperature should be maintained at an appropriate level throughout the entire journey. This applies in particular to those spirits in which, under the influence of too low a temperature, sediment may form (it is worth remembering about this especially in winter). The optimum temperature for transporting this type of beverages is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius. The carrier is responsible for ensuring such conditions.

We should also not forget about securing cargo against theft.

The transported goods are protected against theft by the use of a means of transport with a completely metal body, route planning with stops at guarded parking lots, careful selection of carriers, as well as by the use of navigation and tracking systems,” says Katarzyna Mochalkina. 

In the relationship between shippers and carriers, it is necessary to specify the detailed rules. Time is one of the pillars upon which alcoholic beverage logistics is based. The industry is also known for its large sales peaks. Hence the need for a high degree of flexibility for the operator and carriers.  

HARTWIG experts point out that manufacturers, by entering into contracts with customers for their products, declare that they will deliver the goods on time. The components of this factor are not only the professional staff of the transport company but also technological innovations such as GPS systems. 

In the unanimous opinion of suppliers, the future lies in direct shipping of alcohol to customers. A service of this kind is provided by e.g. UPS for approved recipients. Everything takes place within the framework of the ISC (International Special Commodities) programme. It is the responsibility of the consignor to know and comply with all applicable international laws and regulations. They must comply with any changes that are made from time to time to documentation, labelling, packaging or other requirements or restrictions.

They deliver every fourth bottle of wine in the world

JH Hillebrand is one of the logistics operators that has made the storage and transport of alcohols their speciality (it has been doing this for 175 years). Every fourth bottle of wine in the world is transported by this company (it has established a network of own branches in the world, uses sea containers on a massive scale and thus increases its international transport capacity).

JF Hillebrand generates annual revenues of over €1.2 billion and is one of the few operators in the world with such a narrow specialisation in supply chain management, being the leader of this market,” says Ellina Lolis, country manager of JF Hillebrand Poland.

The company has a 27% share in the logistics service of the global wine industry.

Containers, pallets, bottles, crates – we will deliver any quantity you need thereof from any place in the world. We provide a full range of logistic services, from warehousing, transport and forwarding to customs and advisory services. JF Hillebrand’s customers also willingly use the IT tools and technological solutions that the company creates to improve logistics and transport processes,” adds Ellina Lolis.

This and other specialised companies also create their own technological solutions, i.e. packaging, reinforcements and others, improving the process of spirits transport. Several years ago JF Hillebrand implemented e.g. its first proprietary IT solution – an IT system for managing the beverage supply chain. Later, the company’s technology department implemented further innovations – insulating liner for containers and tools for monitoring the temperature inside the container.

In the next part, you can read about storage systems, means of transport and other tools used in the storage and distribution of spirits.

Image: Pixaby/distel2610

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