Due to Arkansas road weight restrictions, shippers may not exceed 44,000 lbs. (20 metric tons) of product when source loading containers to rice mills. Ten of our customers are exporting milled rice from Arkansas to export markets in Taiwan, Africa, Central and South America, and Europe, where it is then repackaged in sellable-sized bags and used for public consumption.
Because we are shipping food-grade rice, each container must be inspected by the USDA at either the rice mill or at the transload facility in Memphis. These inspections, making sure the product is clear of odors, stains, holes or other defects, take approximately 15 minutes per container. Depending on the level of pre-inspection performed by the drayage company truckers beforehand, we experience a 10-20 percent rejection rate. If a container is rejected, the driver must return to the Memphis container depot to pick up a different box, costing additional time and resources.
To alleviate time lost by rejection, we pre-pull containers to our yard for USDA inspection. If the container is not approved, the dry run of returning and then picking up a new container is a few miles versus the 100-200 mile dry run from the mills in Arkansas.
The road weight restriction is circumvented by transporting rice out of Arkansas before being transloaded into containers. The four rice mills we work with broker and coordinate hopper trucks, which they fill with rice and direct to the Memphis facility. One 40-foot container has the capacity of approximately one and a half hopper trucks.
In Tennessee, containers booked either off the east coast or on dock service via the west coast have higher weight restrictions than Arkansas. The rice is transloaded in bulk into containers and drayed to a Memphis rail location, allowing us to load 55,000 lbs. (25 metric tons) per 40-foot container, reducing costs at origin and destination shipping by using fewer containers with more tonnage.
1000 metric tons of rice
Shipped from AR: 50 containers at 20mts
Shipped from TN: 40 containers at 25mts
Clients prefer this transloading process since it cuts down on dry runs, allows for more weight per container to decrease the number of containers that need to ship, and reduces their freight/shipping costs.
Dunavant is dedicated to helping USA farmers, merchants, and mills do business in the export market. Using a containerized method to move the product versus moving in break bulk vessels also cuts down on the number of times the product is touched, vastly decreasing the chance for contamination and keeping close tabs on quality control.
Woodson Dunavant(woodson.dunavant [at] dunavant [dot] com)
Senior Vice President, Agricuture and Global Network Development