(March 10, 2022) Portland restaurants all over town depend on fresh ingredients to whip up the culinary delights the city is known for, but how does all that food get to the restaurants? The Pacific Coast Fruit Company (Pacific Coast FC) is a multi-generational family-owned and operated business since 1977 that sources fresh produce and delivers it in refrigerated trucks and vans to local restaurants and grocery stores. They’ve partnered with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to help Portlanders learn more about their role in our urban freight system and what businesses like theirs might need for a sustainable and prosperous future serving the city.
In PBOT's latest video, Alex Hill, Director of Transportation for Pacific Coast FC, says they have about sixty drivers at their Burnside location in the Central Eastside Industrial District, many of whom rely on the location’s great public transit to get to work. However, the location has some downsides too. “If the [Burnside] bridge collapsed, we would be stuck on an island,” Hill tells PBOT, stressing the importance of ensuring Portland’s 2040 Portland Freight Plan (known as “2040Freight”) has a resiliency component. “We wouldn’t be able to deliver in the case of an earthquake.”
The 2040Freight Plan is working to help make our urban freight movement safer, more equitable, efficient, and sustainable. Some of the Pacific Coast FC’s sustainable business practices already support these goals because it’s a win-win. Hill says that ten years ago, the company noticed unutilized space in their trucks, so they downsized to smaller delivery vans which are now more efficient for them, leaving less empty space in their trucks and allowing them to move better through Portland streets -which is important for them given they make around 200 deliveries a day in the Portland area. They also purchased a dynamic routing system, which makes their routes more efficient for customers while reducing carbon emissions and lowering fuel costs.
Over the years, they’ve grown great trust with their clients, and they have keys to some of their businesses so they can drop off fresh deliveries outside of their customers’ business hours. Hill says these “dark drops” allow the Pacific Coast FC to deliver their orders “across a straight line rather than having to zig zag across open stores.” They also help to avoid daytime traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions, saving them and their clients both time and money. Safety is a concern for their drivers though, and not all businesses feel safe for them to make night drops. If they did, they might be able to make even more, Hill says.
The Pacific Coast Fruit Company video for PBOT’s 2040Freight Plan is the second in a series that will feature unique perspectives from within Portland’s urban freight system. Together, the videos will aim to elevate some of the range and diversity of freight movement in Portland and how the 2040Freight Plan will aim to support it in ways that are safe, equitable, efficient, and sustainable.
To watch more project videos, learn more, or sign up for project updates, visit www.2040Freight.com.