I am, I know, in a very lucky position: I love my job and every aspect of it. As global head of industry vertical perishables at Panalpina I get to do all the high-level strategy things that you would expect, but still enjoy getting my hands dirty with operations in the field too.
Taking care of both air and ocean freight globally, for all things fresh, also means I get to travel (my family might say too much). And so today, you find me getting ready to head off to Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, one of the major trade shows of the perishables year.
You also see me writing this. It will be the first in a series of blog posts that look behind the scenes of all things perishables at one of the most important companies in the world that specializes in the end-to-end transport of fresh produce: Panalpina.
So, Asia Fruit Logistica: what are the expectations?
As a young buck, trade shows meant booking your space, erecting a stand and then smiling sweetly in the hope that someone stopped to discuss something on their slow wander around the show. Not so anymore, and particularly not at Panalpina. We allocate considerable resources to these major trade shows, and so expect to see returns.
Already we have close to 200 appointments made, so it will be a busy time in Hong Kong – however please, we do have space for more appointments, so if you’d like to speak to me or any of the team, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. But Asia Fruit Logistica will also be a great learning opportunity.
Lifelong learning and product empathy
Some years ago, there was TV advertising campaign for a car manufacturer that saw their engineers slowly opening and closing car doors, repeatedly. The message was that they were obsessive about the details.
That’s how I – and the whole team – feel about perishables. So, as well as meeting people and discussing ways that we can move their products to where they need to go, I’ll also be learning more about those products.
I like to know everything about the products we move… how long their growing cycle is, for example, what the perfect climatic conditions are, what bugs might cause havoc, what soil they grow best in. But it goes beyond understanding how the products are farmed or grown and what their transport requirements are. I want to know literally everything – all the way to socio-economic consumption trends that will affect future demand for these products. I call this product empathy.
I am a bit obsessive like that. I sometimes look down at a plate of food and know where everything has come from, and how it was grown, harvested and transported from farm to fork. You can imagine how much fun I am at dinner parties.
But that’s just the way we are. We – me and the whole perishables team – are obsessive about the products we move, be it fruit, vegetables, fish or flowers. So, if you have an appointment booked, you can expect me to be asking as many questions as I am answering.
While we are in Asia, some of the team will also be hopping over to the Seafood Expo Asia. If you want to meet there, please do get in touch with me on LinkedIn and follow the #perishablesnetwork on social media.
We’d love to speak to you.
Let’s talk perishables.
Colin Wells, Global Head of Industry Vertical Perishables