If you’re a food retailer in the U.S., Latin America, or the Caribbean and you carry tasty products like Panamei salmon, Mambo empanadas, or Chiquita tostones, then there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Quirch Foods LLC. Since 1967, the Coral Gables, Florida-based company has been one of the region’s largest food distribution companies. Quirch serves customers like independent and chain supermarkets, food-service distributors, processors and manufacturers, cruise lines, and restaurants.
The distributor has been growing steadily throughout its 55 years, but that expansion has accelerated since 2018, when the private equity fund Palladium Equity Partners made a "significant investment” in the company. In recent years, Quirch has acquired a number of smaller brands, including Colorado Boxed Beef, Butts Foods, Pacific Food Distributors, Scariano Wholesale Food Distribution, Phoenix Logistics & Cold Storage, and IQ Foods.
To accommodate that growth, Quirch has quadrupled its fleet over the past two years. Today, the company operates just under 500 refrigerated trucks that make more than 7,000 stops a day. The trucks service a network of 23 distribution centers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Illinois, Texas, Washington, Oregon, and Puerto Rico that collectively represent 2.3 million square feet of space.
To get a better handle on its expanding fleet operation, Quirch recently contracted with software developer DispatchTrack to help it streamline its routes, reduce miles driven, and ensure faster, on-time delivery. Based in San Jose, California, DispatchTrack offers a scalable SaaS (software as a service) delivery management platform that uses an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered routing algorithm to ensure high ETA (estimated time of arrival) accuracy in last-mile deliveries.
The collaboration has been a success, according to leaders at both companies. “DispatchTrack’s hybrid routing has allowed us to create far more efficient routes in radically less time, and this increased efficiency has translated into time and cost savings,” Luis Porto, director of operations development at Quirch Foods, said in a release. “Additionally, having access to real-time information during deliveries has greatly improved the quality and speed of communication with our internal teams and our customers.”
Since the project began, DispatchTrack’s last-mile solution has allowed Quirch to continue to grow its business while preventing dips in customer service and minimizing the risk of late deliveries to important customers, the company reports.
At the same time, Quirch has been able to reduce its routing time by 50%, according to Satish Natarajan, DispatchTrack’s co-founder and CEO. As for what that process entails, the software developer defines routing time as the amount of time it takes to route all of the necessary trucks while optimizing for customer time-window expectations and driver skills, minimizing the number of trucks, and ensuring the fewest possible miles are driven.
“[In the past,] on a bad day, the routing exercise from a particular distribution center might have taken as long as three hours. With DispatchTrack, even on the worst days, routing only takes about an hour—on a good day, that might be as little as 25 minutes,” Natarajan said.