• The risk trail to FOB: Transport to port


    There are no uniform patterns for inland transportation to the port. Each producing country has different arrangements, but all have some risk principles in common.

    • The truck that collects the coffee at your facility must have been properly cleaned as you do not know what it carried before. Closely inspect all trucks for smells and other contamination. Look for holes in the roof or flooring through which water could penetrate or through which coffee might be stolen by the use of probes.
    • The same applies when containers are used for inland transportation. In addition, take a very close look at the locking devices of the doors and at the door hinges.
    • It is recommended also to check the moisture of any wooden flooring of any such truck or container with a moisture-measuring instrument. Even a moisture content of well in excess of 20%, a situation in which coffee would definitely become damaged, cannot be verified by simply touching or feeling the floor.
    • If the inland container is also to be used to ship the coffee then be sure that the container is properly lined, with the coffee fully enveloped by strong Kraft paper or cardboard (depending on the season and your type of trade). (See 05.02.03.)
    • Depending on climatic conditions heat radiation may be a potential hazard. Even if that is not the case, coffee in a container should never be stored in the open for a prolonged period.
    • Ensure that only known and trusted parties or persons handle the coffee. It is advisable to operate with as few truckers or trucking companies as possible in order to build a mutual relationship. It may also be wise to clearly define which trucks and which drivers may be used.
    • Do not permit overnight trucking or prolonged stops at unknown places. If the distance to the port is too far to make it in a single day trip then make sure the driver reports with the truck at places that can be trusted, and stays overnight only in a safe and secured compound. Under certain circumstances convoy systems can also be of help.
    • In some countries it is advisable to consider using security services. Before adopting such safety measures and so incurring cost, always ask yourself how quickly you will be notified of something being wrong, and who will do what within what period of time after such information is received. Have an established accident or crisis management procedure.
    • Ensure the coffee is delivered to a safe and suitable location, and that the operator is familiar with the handling of coffee. On arrival the goods should be properly checked and a certificate of receipt issued. This is to ensure there is a credible paper trail that the insurer can verify.
    • Remember, the climate in most shipping ports is far from ideal for coffee. In high temperatures and high humidity coffee absorbs moisture, possibly to a level where permissible limits for safe transportation are exceeded and where severe condensation and mould may become unavoidable.

    Exporters should bear in mind that at all times the coffee travels and is stored at their risk. There is also the obligation to deliver a particular quality and quantity at a given time and place. Poor management of the risks to FOB may ruin any chance of claiming a mishap on force majeure (i.e. as unforeseeable events beyond anyone's control - see 04.05.08).

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