Everybody talks about the higher cost of fuel, but the folks
at A&I Transportation are actually trying to do something about it.
Bob Lopez, general manager for the Watsonville, CA-based
produce hauler, said his company has notified grocery store chains Albertsons
and Safeway that it will no longer haul produce for them unless they pay a fuel
surcharge of at least 40 cents per mile.
Lopez said the company, which has about 50 trucks that haul
produce from California to grocery stores throughout the West, currently gets
about 26 cents per mile, and that just isn’t cutting it.
“You figure at (diesel prices of) $3 a gallon, it’s pretty
bad,” he said. “When your trucks get five to six miles a gallon and you’re
going 900 miles, the cost to get that produce from point A to point B is a
Lopez said his company told the retail giants that it needed
more money, but it wasn’t meant to be a threat.
“We’ve got to approach it professionally,” he said. “We’ve got
to ask politely. We need an increase, and if we don’t get it we have to stop.”
While the stores have not yet given an official answer,
Lopez said he is hoping for a compromise. He said he expects feedback within
another week or so.
The only problem Lopez foresees is the very real possibility
that the grocery chains could simply decide to give their business to someone
else. If that happens, Lopez said he’d find other businesses to haul for.
“We have to do what’s right for our company,” he said. “We’ll
have to go search elsewhere, and let them kill the next competitor for what
they want to do it for.”