Port Slowdown Dulls Washington Apple Exports
Los Angeles, CA – The export of one of the Pacific Northwest’s staple agricultural products – apples – has been severely impacted by the continuing work slowdown by dock workers as labor contract talks between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union continue drag on.
“Individual firms have lost millions of dollars a week in orders. We’re estimating tens of millions of dollars each week throughout the industry,” said Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
“There’s an immediate negative impact on returns to growers and the industry as a whole.”
Every year Washington exports about 30 percent of its entire production to more than 60 countries around the world.
In the 2013-14 crop year the quantity exported was over 37.3 million 42-lb bushel cartons.
This year, the industry produced a huge crop of about 155 million, 40-pound boxes – 35 percent more than usual. Despite the record crop and growing seasonal demand for the fruit, in early November, growers said apples would have to leave port by the end of the month to reach markets in Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
A number of firms, particularly packers, marketers and shippers, he said have been forced to lay off workers or cut hours “because they’re not moving inventory at the rate they planned to.”
DeVaney comments were echoed by Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, who said the continuing port situation “hurts and continues to hurt. We need to find a solution. It’s having a huge impact.”