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Shipping Troubles Haunting Almond Growers

Shipping Troubles Haunting Almond Growers

2022-01-11

Kern County almond growers are facing logistical headaches this year. Industry experts say port congestion, combined with a shortage of truck drivers and other supply-chain problems, are frustrating farmers and processors working to get their product to overseas consumers. The latest official estimates say California’s 2021 almond crop was about 10 per cent smaller in the crop year that ended August 1 as compared with twelve months earlier. That decrease in volume would normally suggest prices go up.

However, before the farmers can get paid, shipments need to arrive at their destination. The latest numbers suggest that’s not happening to the degree it was a year before. Instead, domestic and export deliveries are down. And so are prices. Rabobank reported in November that global container prices have increased more than 800 per cent since the start of the pandemic amid record demand, mass cancellations of cargo ships and an imbalance in shipping container distribution. Port congestion and closures, not to mention a driver shortage, also contributed to the problem.

Since June, the company’s ag research arm said the number of ships at anchor waiting to be offloaded reached new highs because of port congestion. The problem was reported to be worst at US West Coast ports. CEO Richard Waycott of the Almond Board of California said Monday he is cautiously optimistic the shipping situation is gradually returning to normal — a good thing not just for exports, he said, but also for growers trying to get soil amendments and other farming supplies that are badly missed when they arrive late.

Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)