Food and Freight Work Together
(Please Note: Due To Pandemic, Some Information Below May Change)
Big Business Concepts
Food and feeding tourists and residents in the Las Vegas Valley is an enormous business. Being a growing city is a great sign that Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas are thriving communities, but where do the Las Vegas Valley’s produce and food come from? Part of the perpetual growth that Las Vegas has experienced is because of how the puzzle pieces fit together.
Not many crops grow in the desert. Food for both tourists and residents need transportation to get to town to feed everyone. Almost all of the Las Vegas Valley’s food products are brought here through freight. Many, many trucks enter the city, unload, and leave every day.
Cost of Goods
Las Vegas is a very consumable city. Everything in the city is trucked in, which is fine. The problem with being in the middle of the desert has been that trucks were leaving empty most of the time. Trucking companies often have to charge for gas and mileage in both directions or offer lower outbound rates.
Companies have moved their manufacturing to Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas within the last 20 years to take advantage of the city’s central location and lower freight costs. Big O Tires, Oceanspray Cranberries, Levis, Home Shopping Network, and Amazon have all taken advantage of these lower freight costs. A few years ago, Ben and Jerry’s bought a small ice cream manufacturer in Henderson, Nevada, for easier west coast distribution. Ben and Jerry’s was ultimately purchased and is now the Henderson plant and hub for the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world. Smart.
What do empty trucks mean to you? Ultimately, a truck’s operating costs are doubled if a truck leaves Las Vegas empty. These costs are passed on to consumer purchases. Thankfully, due to great city planning choices, grocery stores still have fruit for $.88 a pound and ground beef for $3+ a pound. T-Bone and rib-eye steaks are $5 a pound, making our food costs lower than the national average.
Wood, paper goods, and building materials are imported since the desert has few trees. Some companies use the rail system to bring raw materials into the city, several having their own rail spurs. Oceanspray uses an open-wagon type of train car to bring in raw cranberries. Then they make their various juices, and they use semi-trucks for outgoing freight and distribution. Being located less than a day’s drive to many large cities also makes sense.
A city with a 600,000 pound Gorilla called “The Strip” can afford to hire experts. One expert was brilliant about 15-20 years ago and suggested that we build an international runway. This runway now allows larger airplanes carrying both passengers and additional freight to land here. Imports now fill up some of the trucks leaving town at reduced freight costs.
U.S. Customs at McCarran International Airport only takes a few hours to process these imports compared to other cities that sometimes take days. Since Nevada only has one international port of entry in the state, U.S. Customs is not spread as thin as they are in other cities. From Las Vegas, it’s only a 4-hour drive to Southern California and a day to Phoenix, Tuscon, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake, Sacramento, and San Francisco.
To keep the Cost of Goods down, businesses and city planners have done a great job. There are still empty trucks leaving town, but the stats used to have 90% of trucks leaving empty. A couple of examples of truck space required to keep Las Vegas stocked are: tourists consume over 100,000 pounds of SHRIMP each and every day! Those guys require refrigerated or freezer trucks to get them here. Now the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream plant in Henderson uses those trucks to ship ice cream out. Good match! Amazon, Sephora, HSN, Big O Tires, and Ocean Spray all take advantage of our empty trucks and workforce. Think about how much toilet paper 2.25 million people use in a day and the truck space required to bring in just that one product every day.
Buffet Food Waste
Can you imagine the amount of food needed to feed 250,000 tourists a day at buffets alone? Now think about how much food is thrown out each day at these large buffets? It’s staggering!
There was a large pig farm in North Las Vegas that collected buffet and kitchen waste every day at the hotels. Pigs at this farm were fat and happy! When the farm relocated further out of town two years ago, they incorporated a freeze-drying food plant to save and re-distribute all of the extra buffet waste they collect. This great program is also filling trucks.
Republic Services invested in custom-designed machinery for a state-of-the-art recycling plant three years ago. It was the largest recycling plant in the country- it may still be. Trucks and trains are filled with bundles of recycled materials every day to get shipped overseas. Every house in the valley is given both a recycling and trash container with separate trucks picking up from each house.
When you read about the cost of goods, keep in mind that products and goods on the Las Vegas Strip and airport cost more than in the outlying neighborhoods. As a result of averages being used, these Las Vegas Cost of Goods tables are not necessarily accurate for most residents. Gasoline on The Strip is $0.50-$1 more per gallon than I pay all year long. Additionally, casinos offer fabulous meal deals to attract local residents. Eating out can be quite reasonable. Not to mention, deals are offered at most casinos as 50+ Senior Day Specials.
Nevada tax benefits are certainly an incentive to live in Nevada. However, there’s an underlying spirit of “team” and “creating good” that keeps us living here. We are happy to have called Las Vegas home for over 25 years. There has been constant change and growth. What makes us proud of the community are the creative problem-solving companies and people that also call Southern Nevada home. The government is doing a great job with the Las Vegas Valley’s Master Plan, and it shows.
This Blog was written by Kurt Grosse. Kurt is a 25 Year Nevada Realtor and a former Nevada Building Engineer (P.E., C.E.) Kurt is known as “The Protector” because he uses his skills and knowledge to protect his clients every day. If you have any questions or are looking to buy or sell property in Southern Nevada, give him a call today at 702-750-7599.
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