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Flour, sugar, and happiness: How freight gets handmade donuts into the hands of Portlanders

Blog Post
A pink bakery box filled with Coco Donuts.
PBOT partners with local business Coco Donuts to explain how freight connects Portlanders with fresh donuts
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Published

(Feb. 10, 2022) Do donuts make you want to dance? Coco Donuts Operations Manager, Shelby Minor, says you can’t be unhappy and eat a donut. To get these deliciously delightful pastries into the hands of donut-loving Portlanders all over town, ingredients are semi-trucked to their production facilities where carefully crafted donuts are loaded into Sprinter vans and distributed to their many stores. In sharing their story of how their goods move, Coco Donuts provides insight into the value and importance of our transportation system to local businesses.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is working on the 2040 Portland Freight Plan (called “2040Freight”) to help make our urban freight movement safer, more equitable, efficient, and sustainable. Coco Donuts has practices of their own that support these goals because it’s mutually-beneficial for their business model. Their ingredients (all that flour and sugar) are dropped off by the semi-trucks around 3 a.m. daily so that their bakers can start making fresh donuts starting at 4 a.m. Incidentally, “night drops” (when freight is unloaded at night like the donut ingredients are) not only make sure ingredients are fresh, they also end up avoiding daytime traffic congestion, making for an overall more efficient trip that’s both cost-effective and reduces carbon emissions. Vans are then loaded up at their production facility to make fresh donut drops to their stores.

Shelby Minor says potholes can be a risk factor for delicate donuts riding in their Sprinter vans. Having roads in good condition makes their delivery trips more efficient, which factors into the cost of the donuts they sell. When factoring in externalized costs of delay and product damage, Portlanders would pay more for their goods - even for their donuts - if our roads were less safe. Yet another reason why street safety is important for everyone.

Indeed, freight impacts every single Portlander in a myriad of ways. Want to learn more about 2040Freight? Sign up for periodic project updates on the plan website at www.2040Freight.com.