In the logistics world, seed season usually lasts from the fourth quarter of one year to the first quarter of the next. During this time, the demand for the deliveries of crops and fertilizers increases significantly. According to the European Seed Certification Agencies Association (ESCAA), the value of European seed exports reached €8.3 billion in 2019. Half of the exported seeds were for corn and other vegetables.
In terms of seed supply, the top countries are France, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Germany, and the Netherlands. Since 2002, leading players on the seed and fertilizer market have relied on the AsstrA international corporate group to plan, manage, and monitor their cargo flows. Over the past two decades, the company's experts have gained a deep understanding of the industry, seeds as cargo, and the export/import/transit documentation that accompanies it.
For the 2020-2021 sowing season, AsstrA completed over 2,000 customer orders for seed shipments within the European Union and from the European Union to Russia and Ukraine.
“Well-recognized international companies have been relying on the AsstrA group for over 26 years now. During this time, the company has built a pool of proven transport suppliers who are familiar with the norms and standards for transporting seeds with all necessary documentation and certifications. Each of our clients from the agricultural industry receives on-time deliveries, which are critical for this type of cargo,” notes Yulia Sadovodova, Head of Sales for Project Logistics at AsstrA.
In a given year, AsstrA typically receives the first seed delivery orders in October. The cargo is shipped by sea, as this transport mode supports large delivery volumes. For seed delivery orders arriving in December, during peak season, trucks are the preferred transport mode thanks to the shorter transit time.
“When transporting seeds outside the EU, the first hurdle is documentation. Cargo must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued at the place of loading. This document needs to be complete and correctly completed to avoid "surprises" during border inspection when leaving the EU. The certificate’s validity period must also be considered when planning transit,” says Natalia Iwanowa-Kolakowska, Deputy Regional Director for the EU and Country Manager for the French region. “Strict phytosanitary regulations limit transport companies’ choices when developing delivery schemes. For example, you need to remember that intermediate transshipment of goods is unacceptable. Accordingly, when exporting a small batch of seeds from Europe, it is better to use a low-tonnage vehicle instead of combining the load with other loads in a combined shipment.”
For the transportation of agricultural seeds, big bags on pallets are used. However, such packaging is considered unstable and tends to deform truck canopies. Therefore, the logistic providers are shifting towards packaging in bags of 25 kilograms, which are stacked on a pallet and secured with several layers of film wrapping.
“When transporting seeds, it is crucial to check and inform the logistic provider of the value of the cargo. Sowing seeds are generally inexpensive. However, for the delivery of mother seeds intended for further seed production, the value of the cargo in one vehicle can reach 2.5 million euros. Therefore, additional security measures are needed to transport such freight. The AsstrA team recommends that customers choose an isotherm vehicle with rigid sides and get additional cargo insurance. For each vehicle with valuable cargo, we develop a transportation route on a case-by-case basis taking into account the risks. Everything is planned in advance, including the 24/7 guarded parking lots where drivers will rest along the way,” sums up Natalia Iwanowa-Kolakowska.