Special 'Pasta Trains' Deliver Hundreds of Tons of Italian Spaghetti to German Supermarkets
German logistics company DB Schenker deserves its own round of applause for its ability to continue delivering crucial supplies during this ongoing global crisis. It has quickly established new rail routes, significantly decreased shipping times from Asia to parts of Europe, and it has even filled the cabins of passenger planes in order to transport medical supplies and other essentials.
Last month, it flew more than 37 tons of masks and other personal protective equipment from China to Norway. It stacked 30 tons of urgent medical equipment in the overhead bins and across the seats of an empty Lufthansa A330 plane before flying it from Shanghai to Germany. And the company also scrambled to organize a special train service that could take more than 400,000 packages of pasta from Naples to Nuremberg.
The American Journal of Transportation reports that the Cucina-brand pasta was picked up from its supplier in southern Italy. More than 500 pallets of dry spaghetti, penne, and fusilli—literally 200 tons of carbs—were loaded onto trucks and driven more than 100 miles north to Agnani, where the pallets were then put on freight trains to Nuremberg. (The pallets were split into two separate shipments; the first 300 have already arrived in Germany).
Upon its arrival in Germany, the pasta was then unloaded, reloaded onto trucks, and driven to Aldi Süd’s 10 regional distribution centers. From there, the pasta will be delivered to the supermarket's 650-plus stores.
“We ensure that supply chains in Europe are kept up and running. This is what we are doing all the time, "Christian Drenthen, a Land Transport board member at DB Schenker, said. "The current coronavirus pandemic emphasizes the importance of reliable supply chains. Logistics keeps the world running, as demonstrated by our solution for ALDI to transport pasta from Italy to Germany on short notice. We ensure that empty supermarket shelves are being refilled."
Andreas Kremer, Aldi Süd's director of supply chain management, said that customers shouldn't worry if products are temporarily sold out. "When it comes to pasta, there is no need for panic buying," Kremer said. (In a blog post, Aldi Süd said that there was no need for its customers to 'hamster' pasta, which is Germany's delightful word for stockpiling food.)
In early March, the Berlin Spectator described supermarket shelves that had been stripped of canned goods, breads, pasta, and—of course—toilet paper. "No supermarket in the western part of Germany has looked that way since the early 1950s," it said. (The German government has attempted to reassure everyone that there are no food shortages, despite some temporarily sold-out pantry staples.)
On Monday, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that it was still too early for the country to talk about a return to "normal life," and that lockdown measures and business closures would remain in place until at least April 19.
But at least spaghetti is back in several hundred supermarkets now. That's one tiny step in the right direction.