Oranges in no man’s land: A story about a problem and its solution


It seemed as if last Friday was going to be a normal day. By “normal” we mean a Friday with the typical tasks we face in the middle of the orange season: the harvest, preparation of the orders, their shipment and doing all of it in a race against time.

Our President Service Team (Presidents is a term that refers to the customers at Naranjas del Carmen) started to notice more shipment incidents than usual related to boxes that were stuck in a logistics center in France. At 03:30 pm we became aware that this was only the tip of the iceberg of a problem, which would eventually change our entire transportation system.

-”There is an emergency. It seems as if our shipment company in France (DPD) was sending back 296 boxes with oranges.”, said our President Service without losing their calm, but already aware of the importance of the problem.

-”Why?” Was the only question we were asking ourselves not yet able to find an answer at that moment. Did we label them incorrectly? Was there a mistake in our system or the one of DPD? Could it be possible that 296 addresses were wrong by accident? Coincidences happen everyday, but 296 at once? There had to be more to the story.

296 Presidents would not receive their oranges this weekend. Besides, it was Friday and there was not much time left to react appropriately because it is always difficult to solve shipment issues over the weekend.

Between calls with some Presidents having the very same question “Why is my box stuck in Grenoble, France?”, we tried to talk to someone at DPD to get an explanation. However, nobody could give us a clear answer.

Time went by and we cancelled our Friday evening plans. This was, once again, one of those moments when the team demonstrated their total commitment to our Presidents .

The situation became worse when we prepared the final (?) list of affected deliveries. At the end, 360 boxes were sent back!

During a call with a representative from DPD, we were informed that the management decided that they would not process perishable products anymore. Without informing those shipping exactly this type of products, some logistics centers implemented the new rules right away and rejected boxes and sent them back to where they had come from.

360 boxes are more than 3,600 kg of oranges. The work of 18 persons picking and packing the oranges. 360 families who had ordered oranges directly from the farmer in Valencia (a lot of them for the first time) and who would not receive them in time for the weekend. The trust of the Presidents in the Naranjas del Carmen was at stake.

How did we solve the problem?

The oranges that are stuck in France cannot be shipped again to the Presidents because they would not arrive in a good state anymore. So what are we going to do with them?

-”We will donate them.” This is what we were doing already in case a box could not be delivered. Normally, this is the case for 20 to 30 kg per week. Therefore, we talked to the food bank in France that this week, there will be orange juice for everyone.

-”And what are we going to do with the 360 families waiting for their oranges?”

Every time we have an incident, we activate a protocol based on two main activities: inform and repair.

On the one hand, we wrote this text, to apologize and inform the CrowdFarmers. On the other hand, new oranges are harvested and shipped as we speak. We will pick more oranges so that 360 more boxes can be shipped with another transportation company.

Problem solved.