California growers facing export troubles

Higher prices and empty shelves have been some of the hallmarks of the shipping crisis. At this point in time, a historic number of cargo ships wait off the coast of Southern California to offload goods. Unfortunately, the congestion has rippled through the goods movement chain, also slowing down California growers trying to get their products out of the country.

In September, rates for shipping containers headed from China to the US hit an all-time high. As of October 22nd, shipping companies were charging a median rate of $16,884 to move a shipping container from China to the West Coast, but only $1,064 to make the reverse trip, according to the Freightos Baltic Daily Index.

Almonds are by far the largest agricultural product exported from California. In 2019, they made up nearly a quarter of the state's $22 billion worth of ag exports. Steve Schult, vice president of global supply chain for Blue Diamond Growers: "We've been in the logistics business for 110 years. We're used to disruption of some sort, but certainly, the pandemic has placed a particular strain on shipping."

He said Blue Diamond's longstanding relationships with shippers at the Port of Oakland have helped the company find ships to put its products on, and Blue Diamond has also shifted to long-term planning for its shipments.

"We are able to make our shipments. The question is, when does the customer expect to receive it," Schult said.


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