Slow Progress for Port Problems

Josh McGillCalifornia Corner, Trade

California ports remain a critical logjam for products shipped in or out of the country. However, fresh fruit, including California citrus products, is managing to get to foreign markets.

Shipping specialist Taylor Ball said “Fruit is getting shipped, but there is a lot of stress and worry involved. But demand remains high, and the prices are good.”

Ball manages West Coast citrus shipments, both imports and exports, for Dayka & Hackett, a large California-based fruit distribution company. “We’ve had some product shipped by air, but that is prohibitively expensive,” he said. “It will increase the price to the customer by as much as four times.”

California Ports
Photo by Guillaume Merle on Unsplash

Governmental intervention is on its way to find and fund some solutions. In early February, California State Assembly members met to discuss supply-chain issues and port congestion damaging the market for California agriculture, which has resulted in a loss of $2.5 billion worth in export opportunities, according to California Citrus Mutual. Experts provided the assembly members with an overview of the impacts on the agriculture industry and potential solutions. Assembly members reviewed and discussed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-19-21 and found it inadequate. They called for more tangible solutions.

The U. S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also working to find a solution. In February, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced plans to increase capacity at the Port of Oakland and improve service for shippers of U.S.-grown agricultural commodities. The partnership between USDA and the Port of Oakland will create a new 25-acre “pop-up” site to make it easier for agricultural companies to fill empty shipping containers with commodities.

The port logjam will not be solved soon. It is expected to last into 2023.

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About the Author

Len Wilcox

Correspondent at Large for Citrus Industry Magazine and AgNet West

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