Last year, Heuer Logistics started distributing goods for cheese manufacturer Hochland around the globe. Not only does the medium-sized logistics company specialise in transporting cheese, it also handles maritime logistics for totally different commodities.
A look at how processed cheese slices
Photos: Heuer Logistics, Hochland
For decades, a great deal has revolved around the banana at Heuer Logistics in Bremerhaven. Until the second decade of this century, for instance, no less than two refrigerated ships a week moored at the terminals in Bremerhaven to deliver large quantities of the Germans’ favourite fruit. “But that is all history now. Since the beginning of 2019, the reefer ships have said goodbye to German ports and, as part of our diversification strategy, we have spread our range of services over a number of different pillars of business,” states Jan Zobel, authorised signatory at Heuer Logistics. A new pillar added in August 2020 involves the transportation of goods for the food producer Hochland in 24 countries on every continent. The family-owned company from Heimenkirch in the Allgäu is one of the largest private producers of cheese in Europe and produces the entire range of fresh and processed cheese, hard and semi-hard cheese, and feta and herb quark. “We store the products destined for overseas export in our refrigerated warehouse and then load them into containers,” says Zobel, outlining the responsibilities of Heuer Logistics.
According to the Allgäu-based company, the growing sales figures have made it necessary to set up an overseas distribution centre. Zobel formulates the reasons for the cooperation as follows: “On the one hand, Hochland’s warehouse in southern Germany was too small for the company’s expansion plans, and on the other, we can understandably offer more favourable container lead times from our warehouse. This is how we came into the picture.” With the help of a freight forwarder, Hochland now ensures that the goods are loaded onto a truck equipped with appropriate refrigeration technology in southern Germany in the evening, and arrives at the refrigerated warehouse in Bremerhaven’s free port the very next morning. There, 15 climate-controlled rooms equipped with some 8,000 pallet spaces are available, which Heuer Logistics is certified to use according to the IFS food, product and service standard, among others. “As soon as we receive the confirmation of sale, the cheese products are usually loaded into sea containers without a pallet and shipped to their respective destinations,” states Zobel.
Heuer Logistics covers a wide range of services: A reachstacker transports a refrigerated container with food (l), while steel pipes are loaded in a dry container right next to it.
From consignments of small fruits to project cargoes
In the context of its fruit and food activities, however, Heuer Logistics also focuses on commodities other than cheese. Bananas, for example, continue to occupy a high share of their daily business, but are now transported in containers instead of on refrigerated ships. Other core competencies from Heuer Logistics in this segment include the professional transportation of citrus fruits, grapes and pineapples at the correct temperature, as well as potatoes. Maritime logistics for chicken eggs also recently became part of the company’s portfolio.
Speaking of eggs. One of the important guiding principles of Rudolf-August Oetker, the long-time head of the Oetker Group who died in 2007, was, “Never put all your eggs in one basket.” This is how the food expert described his strategy of risk diversification, according to which all the eggs that would have been in the one basket could have broken in a bad economy. Heuer Logistics acts in a similar way by distributing the company’s range of services across several mainstays of business. In addition to the fruit and food logistics mentioned above, the company’s three other areas of business cover general cargo, project shipments and vehicles. While the former involves general cargo of all kinds, such as plywood and sawn timber, project shipment covers the entire high and heavy range. In the case of vehicles, on the other hand, everything revolves around the shipping and receipt of cars – ranging from classic cars to used cars and luxury cars.
“This versatility allows us to minimise dependencies,” explains Zobel – also with a view to the developments in the past twelve months: “The corona pandemic hit us hard in some areas.” For example, our project business collapsed significantly, whereas an upward trend was noticeable in food. “People simply buy more in advance so that they have enough food in their larder in the event of a crisis. Conversely, less investment in new factories and plants takes place in uncertain times like these, which is clearly reflected in the declining rate of project shipments. However, Zobel hopes for an improvement in the current year, especially in the latter segment. “There will also be a time after coronavirus. I’m sure that the business segments that got into trouble during the pandemic, like project shipments, will pick up again.” Regardless of this, he wants to acquire additional new customers in the fruit and food segment this year in addition to the activities undertaken for Hochland. “Our cheese business runs like clockwork,” says Zobel with a wink. “So there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be any room for more new business on our logistics menu.” (bre)
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Heuer Logistics has founded a separate company, SSG Quality Services, for the quality control of fruit here, such as bananas.