P.J. Impex relies on an international network of reputable suppliers and its experienced staff to help make it a leader in its industry. But the Montreal-based food trading company knows that all the connections and business savvy in the world couldn’t make it a success if it didn’t have a safe, reliable and efficient means of shipping the meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables and processed foods it imports from suppliers and exports to customers around the world every day.
P.J. Impex ships its products in 40-foot and 20-foot reefer containers on ocean vessels sailing all over the world. Reefer trucks play an important role in the company’s domestic sales with North America and Mexico. Meat products typically need to be maintained at minus 18°C over the length of a voyage while chilled fruit and vegetables need to be maintained around the 1°C mark. Some fruits and vegetables also have air circulation requirements, which can differ depending on the commodity involved.
“Reliable reefer equipment and the technology associated with shipping perishable food products are absolutely vital to our business,” says P.J. Impex President Chad Coleman.
Founded in 1988, P.J. Impex has grown into one of the leading Canadian food trading houses exporting worldwide. In 1990, under Coleman’s leadership, the company changed directions. Instead of dealing primarily with importing meat from Australia and New Zealand into Canada and the West Indies, P.J. Impex began to focus on exporting fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen meat and poultry from North America to markets around the world. Today, the company is a major player in the international food supply chain, delivering the safest and best quality food on the market to clients in over 35 countries. Its responsibilities include overseeing everything from packaging and shipping to the complicated paperwork that is part and parcel of being in the uncompromising international food business. In some cases, company representatives even get involved in the selection process.
The company has no warehouse or distribution centre. From its offices in Montreal, Coleman and his employees broker deals that, for example, move meat from Argentina and Brazil, poultry and pork from Canada and fruits and vegetables from the U.S., to countries like Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand. Remember those beautiful British Columbia raspberries that popped up late last year at such a great price? There’s a good chance that P.J. Impex helped put them in the fruit section of your grocery store.
“The food business is an increasingly serious business, where reputation is everything,” says Coleman. “Over the years, we’ve earned an enviable reputation for handling quality products and delivering them in impeccable condition. That said, the integrity of our business depends greatly on the reliability of the cool chain.”
Indeed, the strength of the cool supply chain means everything to the people at P.J. Impex. As well as dealing with documentation and inspection issues, the company includes transport and logistics in the services it offers its customers.
“Over the years, we’ve tried to narrow down the companies that we deal with based on their reliability and service level,” Coleman says. “We simply cannot afford to have late shipments or missed deliveries or have our product mishandled in any way. So we work with shippers we know are reliable, and we take a good hard look before we get involved with anybody new.”
Since Coleman took over at P.J. Impex, a number of technology improvements have changed the way his company does business.
“Computers and the Internet have introduced new capabilities,” Coleman says. “Bookings, tracings and documentation can be generated online now. All of this has created greater efficiencies.”
As far as the reefer containers themselves are concerned, Coleman points to the introduction of high cube containers, which offer greater capacity, as the having the biggest impact on the business of shipping foods. Recent improvements in reefer unit compressors mean that a maintained temperature as low as -35°C is now achievable in a business where -18°C was the norm for many years. But despite the introduction of these more powerful reefers, Coleman says that temperature maintenance over the duration of a voyage, especially in regards to fruits and vegetables, is a bigger concern in his business.
“There still need to be improvements in temperature variability,” Coleman says. “It’s great that reefers can maintain such low temperatures over long periods. But reliability will always be what’s really important to us.”
P.J. Impex has been providing our growing list of customers with top-quality products since 1988. Our network of reputable suppliers spans the globe, allowing us to offer everything from fruits, vegetables and nuts, to meat, poultry and canned goods, all in a timely and affordable manner. More than just a business, we like to think of it as our Partnership With the World.