Bringing our products from our processing plants to store shelves around the country gives us another opportunity to reduce environmental impacts.
Our transportation and logistics operations are an intricate network of distribution centers, trucks, rail, and intermodal vehicles—all of which need energy and fuel as well as materials for regular maintenance and repair.
Ideally, we want to minimize the distance that products travel before they reach our customers’ stores, as well as minimize the total number of vehicles used to transport our products. That way, we can cut down on energy use, air and noise emissions while also saving money.
Reducing Total Network Miles
We track “total network miles” as a way to determine the success of our efforts to reduce the distance our finished products travel between processing plant and store. Since 2006, we have cut out 27 million miles (the equivalent of approximately 5 million gallons of diesel fuel) from our distribution network through a variety of initiatives. These include:
- Optimizing networks. We serve each customer from a source location that minimizes miles travelled. We have seven distribution centers across the country with each one strategically placed at locations close to the final delivery point.
- Expanding production capabilities. We carefully evaluate the best placement for our production facilities so that finished goods travel the shortest distance possible to their final destination. We also shift production or expand plant capacity if demand for finished products increases in areas located near existing plants.
- Increasing payloads. It doesn’t make sense—environmentally or economically—to be shipping products in trucks or containers that are partially empty or inefficiently packed. We work closely with our packaging teams and carriers to maximize our use of shipping space. Since 2007, we have increased our average payload per truck by 4.3 percent. This improvement means that we need fewer trucks to haul the same amount of product.