Prime Group has long specialized in import logistics and export logistics support for produce and perishables goods such as seafood, flowers, and pharmaceuticals— specialty items that need to be shipped within a limited timeframe with maximum visibility.
But not all cargo is time sensitive and needs to reach the customer tomorrow. If a transit time of up to a month from point to point is acceptable, then sea freight is the best choice, and Prime Logistics is ready to deliver.
To learn more about Prime Logistics’ growing emphasis on ocean freight services, they sat down with Group Sales Manager Yulieth Onofre. Having joined the Miami-based sales team in March 2020, she has vast experience in the ocean cargo side of the business, and is busy working her contacts to expand the company’s reach in this important niche.
Q: Are customers pleased to know that the Prime Group companies have a sales division dedicated to ocean freight?
Yulieth: Prime Logistics is synonymous with air cargo transport, yes, but as a full-service provider of global shipping and handling, a growing number of our customers also rely on us to get their products where they need go when rapid delivery isn’t the top priority.
Q: Why do customers pick ocean freight?
Yulieth: When determining the best mode of transport, shippers, and forwarders not only consider how fast they need delivery, but they also factor in price. As you know, airfreight shipment is considerably more expensive than the same volume of sea freight cargo. So, essentially, it comes down to the nature of the freight, the time frame, and how much the shipper is willing and able to spend.
Q. Why join Prime Logistics right when the pandemic first hit?
Yulieth: Because most global logistics companies were designated “essential businesses,” such as those under the Prime Group umbrella, we continued operating for customers who needed us most, in addition to the new customers involved in the worldwide emergency response. As a result, air cargo space was at a premium, and a lot of resources were put toward meeting that demand.
But throughout this entire period, cargo—like computers and other high-demand non-perishable commodities—were still moving by ocean freight, especially food. People have got to eat! Vessels were still going to the same countries on the same itineraries carrying pineapples, avocados, mangos, and dry goods from companies such as a Goya and Iberia. In fact, we are now working to get more business from Iberia.
We are also working with customers who ship massive volumes of e-commerce goods like electronics, cosmetics, apparel, and home goods. Other good candidates to ship by sea freight are heavy equipment, cranes, and project cargoes. And, of course, we are also still moving medical equipment and supplies.
Q: What do you bring to the Prime Logistics team?
Yulieth: I’ve got 20 years of experience in ocean freight—more than I want to admit to! But as a result, I am able to serve as the perfect ally for our customers because I have a clear understanding of the business and the processes involved. I am always able to find the right balance between service, quality, cost components, reliability of the service provider, and timeframes involved.
To be effective, it’s important to know the market, as well as how to ensure the customer doesn’t incur unnecessary charges due to improper or untimely documentation. I optimize routing, match the customer with the best mode of shipment, and due to long-term professional relationships with service providers, I achieve the best freight rates.
Q: Are there any downsides to using ocean freight that you have to explain to customers?
Yulieth: There are so many benefits to ocean shipping, but yes, customers should know of the challenge in predicting and controlling the shipping timelines due to circumstances like congestion at sea ports, which can end up causing delays and additional costs. Natural disasters also can wreak havoc on shipping patterns and schedules. But we are very good at preparing for, monitoring, and responding to those real threats.
Q: What’s the market for ocean freight looking like at present?
Yulieth: Typically, August and into the fall would be the annual peak season for ocean shipping. In recent years, a summertime peak period has emerged in advance back-to-school demand, but that didn’t happen due to the pandemic. So, now we are entering a peak period ahead of the holidays. Whatever happens, we need to be cognizant of the degree to which our customers are preparing right now, in October, for the shopping months of November and December. And with capacity back in the market, ocean freight rates have dropped a bit.