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Raise the Bar: Ensuring the Secure Transloading of Alcoholic Beverages

Published on
April 18, 2024
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Jaycee Davis

In July of 2023, thieves broke into a warehouse in Gibsonton, Fla., and used forklifts and multiple semi-trailers to steal $1.6 million worth of alcohol.

Fortunately, authorities were able to track the stolen goods to a warehouse in Hialeah, Fla., and recovered $1.5 million of the beverages. The theft serves as another reminder of the growing demand for alcoholic beverages, and also as an example of the increasing need for shippers to secure safe passage and storage for distilled spirits, wine, and beer from grain to glass.

Granted, brazen theft from secured storage facilities isn’t a typical concern, but it is one more headache that companies in the alcohol transport and storage business must deal with on a daily basis.

Most issues involving transporting or storing distilled spirits, wine, and beer tend to center around securing correct permits and licensing, adhering to strict regulations for each country, state, county, and city the cargo passes through, limiting breakage, and tracking every transfer of every pallet and shipment from start to finish.

These are the everyday challenges that make third-party logistics companies an essential link in the alcohol supply chain.

The Spirit of the Challenge

When it comes to shipping alcohol, the process has its own set of additional rules and headaches. It doesn’t matter if it is beer, liquor or wine is just traveling across state lines, or if it is being exported or imported. Either way, the process is rife with strict rules, regulations, tariffs, permits, and more.

An example of the challenges is the export/import guide offered by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Some examples:

  • All exporters, importers, and wholesalers must apply online before shipping.
  • Importing bottled beverages can require a multitude of the following: a Federal Basic Permit, Certificate of Label Approval Requirements, Natural Wine Certificate, and Certificate of Age and Origin Requirements.  
  • Specific export requirements, including adhering to federal requirements, state requirements, export documents and certificates,

The bottom line is that transporting alcohol of any kind requires a lot of paperwork, but flawless execution pays off. Economic research by the United States Department of Agriculture shows that alcoholic beverage imports made up 14% of all U.S. agricultural imports in 2022. The bulk, $12 billion, came from distilled spirits, with tequila from Mexico leading the way. At the same time, the U.S. exported $3.9 billion in distilled spirits.

Transloading Best Practices for Alcohol Transport

How do beverage companies move all of the beer, wine and distilled spirits so efficiently and compliantly around the globe?

Transloading plays a major role, and an experienced third-party logistics provider provides the keys to success.

A smooth and well-planned transloading process is a significant key to the international trade of alcohol. Bulk overseas shipments typically have to be separated and sent to various destinations.

Transloading is the process of moving and separating bulk freight, whether pallets are transferred by forklift or bulky, heavy loads are moved by crane and other resources from truck to railcar, or other modes of transportation. Transloading isn’t a long step in the shipping process, but it is a recurring and essential one. Logistics companies have to plan for it every time liquor, beer, or wine is transferred from one transportation or storage unit to the next. They also must be able to track every move and every part of shipments throughout the process in real time so problems can be avoided or minimized.

Some transloading challenges include:

  • Coordinating the multiple modes of transportation.
  • Ensuring the safety and security of goods during the transloading process.
  • Dealing with unpredictable delivery timelines and high costs associated with transloading services.
  • Managing the complex logistics of transloading, including compliance with regulations and paperwork.

Technology on Tap: Enhancing Transparency and Efficiency

With the increased use of Artificial Intelligence and real-time tracking, international trade is becoming more efficient and the industry continues to grow.

Real-time tracking in the reefer supply chain allows shippers to control their shipments. Alerts can be sent when a shipment is going to be delayed, or if a change in temperature could destroy a load. AI, meanwhile, continues to evolve and already helps logistics companies plan more efficient routes, problem-solve in real-time, use storage facilities more efficiently, determine the best modes of transportation, and make the overall shipping process more cost-effective.

Keys to Successfully Importing Alcoholic Beverages

As mentioned, more rules and regulations apply when it comes to shipping alcohol. In addition to being under TBB jurisdiction, importing alcoholic beverages is also governed by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Third-party logistics companies will help companies get their drink formulas approved for entry into the country. The TBB evaluates all beverage ingredients.

Among other services logistics companies such as VCPB Transport help with: Making sure all permits are gathered and done correctly Certificates of Label Approval (COLA) are secured as needed, as well as all certificates of origin are obtained and all transloading is secured.

The VCPB Advantage: Specialized Transloading Solutions

The ability to safely and effectively navigate the muddled waters of transloading alcohol internationally is what separates VBCB Transport in the third-party logistics world. We are a company that specializes in simplifying  the complicated in a number of ways:

  • Specialization: We specialize in transloading, ensuring the right equipment and expertise for the job.
  • Experience: VCPB has extensive experience handling transloading logistics for international trade.
  • Network and Equipment: We have an extensive network of fully insured carriers and the right equipment to handle transloading shipments.
  • Tracking and Communication: Our customers receive real-time tracking and 24-hour dispatch to keep customers informed throughout the transportation process.
  • Custom Solutions: We provide cost-effective and efficient transport solutions tailored to the specific needs of transloading shipments.
  • Alcohol Transport Expertise: Above all, we provide insight into the packaging and handling practices that ensure the safe transloading of alcohol.

To book or learn more about the VCPB advantage, click here.

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