Barfoots of Botley and IPP support the Halloween pumpkin craze by transporting over a million pumpkins within a month.
You could make a case for likening the condensed pumpkin shipping season in the fresh produce supply chain to moving a pumpkin through a fire hose – so much, so fast, and with a regular logistics capacity that is taxed to the limit. Let’s face it: high-volume, seasonal supply chains with demanding delivery timelines can be daunting for logistics professionals. And the thought that eager children are waiting eagerly in anticipation adds to the urgency. With that in mind, anything that can help remove risk and increase reliability can give supply chain planners peace of mind.
And speaking of managing seasonal distribution surges, the UK’s escalating Halloween fascination is a prime time for one of its largest pumpkin suppliers, Barfoots of Botley. In collaboration with their logistics partner, IPP, they ensure that over a million pumpkins reach the UK’s grocery shelves, spanning four distinct varieties, all within a month.
It’s one of the busiest times of the year for Barfoots of Botley, who, together with supply chain partner IPP, deliver four different types of pumpkins to the UK’s supermarkets.
At its busiest time in 2022, the Bognor Regis-based company delivered the equivalent of 40 lorry loads of pumpkins in a single day. That adds up to a lot of pallets, and a tsunami of pumpkins.
Paul Chilton, Barfoots’ head of logistics and planning, said the UK’s growing love of all things Halloween has led to year-on-year growth for pumpkin deliveries throughout its eight-year relationship with IPP.
Coventry-based IPP, one of Europe’s leading poolers of pallets and boxes, works with market gardeners and growers across the country to deliver pumpkins into the nation’s supermarkets, as well as delivering tens of millions of confectionery buckets for doorstep trick-or-treaters.
“Along with the summer sweetcorn season, this is one of our busiest times of the year,” Chilton commented. “We’re moving more than a million pumpkins, which are used for carving, cooking and decoration. The biggest of the lot is the carving pumpkin, which accounts for around 750,000 of the pumpkins we grow and move.”
It adds up to a massive volume of product that needs to move quickly. “The vast majority of these are distributed over just four weeks,” he noted. “It’s a huge technical challenge getting everything lined up for effectively.”
Chilton credited IPP’s ability to work in a dynamic, responsive way to successfully move its goods around the country, along with the quality of the pallets themselves. As well as pumpkins, the company specializes in exotic vegetables such as sweetcorn, asparagus, sweet potato and butternut squashes.
Chilton praised its pallet provider and the reliable product quality. “IPP is one of our biggest suppliers of returnable assets and the one I need to worry about least!”
The two companies also work hand-in-hand to provide the extra resources needed to deal with the short, sharp spike in activity. “We grow a lot of pumpkins on our farms in the south, plus we have a partner farm in the Midlands to which IPP delivers pallets to,” Chilton said. “Pumpkins are a temperamental crop – if they don’t get water, they don’t grow big, and if they get too much water they start to rot. It’s quite a technical challenge getting this all ready for effectively one day.
The “soon-to-be” jack-o’-lanterns draw people into stores, which retailers hope will translate into additional sales. “The pumpkins are the thing that drags people into supermarkets, and while they’re there they buy costumes and sweets and the like. It’s a really important time of year for our customers. It’s a very dynamic situation, but responsiveness and reactiveness are part of the day job for IPP, and they don’t try and make out that it is something special. ”
“We know how popular Halloween has become in the UK, and the huge volumes of pumpkins we move for Barfoots of Botley just prove that,” observed Shelley Pierre, commercial director at IPP. “It’s a great partnership which works on the flexibility, customer service and quality of product that we’re known for.”
For more information on IPP, visit www.ipp-pooling.com