March/April 2022 - 12

SUPPLY CHAIN
LOGISTICS LOGJAM
It started with nuts and hit every sector,
and relief isn't on the immediate horizon
BY ZEKE JENNINGS
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
O
n Jan. 6, 2022, there were a record 105 shipping
vessels anchored or loitering off the coast of
Southern California, waiting for openings to dock
at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Exactly one year prior, there were 32.
Through the first eight months of 2021, having 32 vessels
waiting was on the high side for the Southern California
ports. Normally, it was in the teens or twenties. About the
end of August is when numbers soared and breaking records
became a common occurrence.
L.A. and Long Beach do more volume than any other
seaports in the U.S. They are followed by New York-New
Jersey and Savannah, Georgia, but things aren't much better
at either of those ports either, nor are they at Seattle or
Charleston, South Carolina.
It's not just a struggle to get goods in and out of U.S.
seaports, it's a struggle to do so anywhere in the world,
including through Chinese ports, Hong Kong and Rotterdam,
Netherlands - Europe's largest port.
Moving goods domestically throughout the U.S. also has
become problematic. During a recent expo in California,
Tracey Chow, the government affairs specialist for Western
Growers, said members began complaining of shipping
problems in late 2020, starting with nut growers. Things have
only snowballed from there.
" Now that we're a year into it, essentially every commodity
has been affected, " Chow said. " Before it was just tree nuts,
then it was citrus, then it was stone fruits (and other specialty
crops). Now all the non-specialty crop commodities have
been affected (i.e. soybeans, corn, etc.).
" They're all getting hammered, and probably even worse
than California because they're dealing with rail and
trucking to get to the ports. "
12 MARCH/APRIL 2022
Delays are frustrating and costly for everyone. When
you're moving a perishable product, such as fresh produce,
delays result in commodity loss and food waste.
" (Port delays have) led to fruit spoilage, " said Stewart
Lapage, an Alberta, Canada-based logistics executive with
The Oppenheimer Group, during a recent International
Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) virtual town hall. " Tens of
thousands (containers) have spoiled before they have even
touched the ground. "
Experts say the labor shortage is the first domino in what is
a multifaceted array of problems in the current supply chain
system. The pandemic has exasperated the situation, leaving
many people unable, unauthorized or unwilling to work.
" There is a labor shortage across the board, " said William
Duggan, the North American cold chain advisor for Eskesen
Advisory. " That's for rail, trucking, warehouses (and) all the
way to the terminal. We just don't have enough workers. "
Agriculture labor challenges are nothing new to growers,
but the shortage of workers now extends to most industries
in the supply chain, including cold chain facilities and
packaging materials.
" It all comes back to labor, " Lapage said.
Within North America, moving product by truck has
been hampered by the well-documented driver shortage.
Like in other industries, the pandemic has always worsened
worker availability.
Canadian officials recently implemented a full-vaccination
mandate for U.S. truck drivers entering the country. The U.S.
has a similar mandate for Canadian truckers. The Canadian
Trucking Association estimates the mandates will affect
about 12,000 U.S. and Canadian drivers. The current fully
vaccinated rate is 81% in Canada and 64% in the U.S. as of
mid-February.

March/April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2022

March/April 2022 - 1
March/April 2022 - 2
March/April 2022 - 3
March/April 2022 - 4
March/April 2022 - 5
March/April 2022 - 6
March/April 2022 - 7
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