Kenworth hybrids help
Veritable Vegetable shrink
Jul 22, 2011 9:51 AM
It’s not every day one works with a distribution company as environmentally focused as Veritable Vegetable. Not only does it distribute certified organic fresh fruits and vegetables, but it also maintains a commitment to sustainability in every part of the company, including its fleet of trucks.
As the nation’s oldest distributor of certified organic produce, VV provides full-service distribution to all of California and includes parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada.
With annual sales of $42 million a year and a growth rate of about 10%, the firm works with close to 350 growers, while delivering organic fresh fruits and vegetables to retailers, restaurants, schools, corporate campuses, and wholesalers.
“VV believes that the best way to support farmers is by providing them with consistent distribution channels,” said Tom Howard, the company’s transportation systems manager. “Back in 1974, VV took a burgeoning movement and put it into action. I think it’s a testament to our owners that they had the vision and drive to develop a company that was simultaneously delivering healthy foods and also building opportunities for organic farmers throughout the region.”
“Our transportation efforts are only one part of our environmental initiatives here at VV,” said Bu Nygrens, one of three owners of the woman-owned company. “We want to maintain as small a carbon footprint as possible in every aspect of our work.”
VV’s fleet consists of three modes of distribution. It has long-haul fleet tractors, many of which are aerodynamic Kenworth T660s, that distribute and backhaul produce to and from neighboring states. Its in-state tractors go as far south as San Diego CA and as far north as the Oregon border, delivering produce and backhauling product ranging from bulk produce to micro-brews.
The third arm of distribution is local deliveries within a 100-mile radius of San Francisco CA. The company uses a Kenworth T270 hybrid straight truck for the hilly confines of the Bay area, while three T370 hybrid tractors make regional deliveries. The hybrids and T660s were purchased through NorCal Kenworth, and the dealership will be delivering another T370 hybrid to VV soon.
While the Kenworth hybrids follow the VV culture of reducing its carbon footprint, it’s also making a good economic case. The company received grant money for the hybrids through the California Hybrid Vehicle Incentive Program. The remaining premium difference is offset thanks to fuel improvement of 25% with its hybrid tractors and nearly 30% with its T270 hybrid.
“We run our straight trucks, on average, 50,000 miles a year, and with fuel averaging about $4 per gallon, we’re saving about $8,000 a year in fuel with the T270,” Howard said. “That means the premium we paid is gone in two years. It will take longer on our Kenworth T370 hybrid tractors, since those average only 25,000 miles per year, but the payback is still very good.”
Howard said VV is also working hard to maximize fuel economy in its Class 8 trucks.
“Our Kenworth T660s are averaging close to 7 mpg, and we expect our new T660, with an SCR engine, to do better than that,” he said. “Plus we’re currently installing trailer side skirts on all our 48-foot trailers, which should give us around a 3% improvement in fuel economy. We’re also in the process of adding hybrid reefer units for those trailers.”
For more information, visit www.veritablevegetable.com.
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