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Foreign Food Suppliers Had Some “Very Tense” Moments During 2023 Port Disruptions in the U.S. 


Foreign Food Suppliers Had Some “Very Tense” Moments During 2023 Port Disruptions in the U.S. 

Large International Turnout at New York’s Fancy Food Show 2023

Even as they tried to put last year’s U.S. port disruptions as a “bad dream”, foreign food suppliers, making a strong presence at the recent New York Fancy Food Show 2023, hoped that such disruptions would not recur in the future.

“Foreign food suppliers passed through some very tense moments as food shipments to the U.S., one of our biggest markets, lay uncleared for a long time at U.S. ports, particularly on the west coast,” said Servet Turgut, the export director of an Istanbul-based Turkish dry fruit exporting company at the show. 

The show is North America’s largest event for specialty foods and is organized by the Specialty Food Association (SFA).  Sales of specialty foods and beverages across all retail and foodservice channels neared $194 billion in 2022, up 9.3 percent over 2021, and are expected to reach $207 billion in 2023, according to SFA’s annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report. The specialty market is composed of 63 food and beverage categories which combined account for nearly 22 percent of retail food and beverage sales

The show attracted 2,400 exhibitors from 50 countries and regions, with Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, etc. represented by large exhibitor contingents. Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. were also well represented.  Morocco as this year’s “partner country” presented an array of products ranging from olive oil through dates to packaged tin foods. 

Foreign exhibitors, eager to take advantage of the bullish trend in specialty food sales, were making a strong pitch at the show, even finding innovative ways to beat the inflation and the high freight and storage costs.  One Malaysian company that seemed to generate considerable buyer interest at the show was Selangor-based Doluvo Bhd. Sdn., which used a clever marketing strategy to penetrate the U.S. market; it has been selling its “Pops Malaya” brand of shelf-stable ice lollies, using Amazon to sell its products.  The “Pops Malaya” brand has, meanwhile, become the fastest selling item for Amazon.  Doluvo, a 100% women-owned and managed company, attracted a steady stream of consumers and buyers.

In an interview at the show, Yasmin Karim, the company’s CEO/Founder, said that her company had established contacts with several distributors/brokers having business connections with retailers.  “We work closely with the Malaysian agricultural ministry’s office In Washington.  Our pops are made of a high fruit content, a characteristic appreciated by the consumers,” Karim said, adding her company would also participate in the ANUGA food show in Cologne, Germany, later this year. 

Doluvo ships the pops as liquid which can be stored at room temperature, instead of deep freezing them which would require refrigeration all the way to the retailers. The liquid pops are purchased by consumers who can then freeze them in their refrigerators and consume them as frozen pops.  Selling pops in liquid form is also advantageous because the ships take about two months to transport our containers from Port Klang in Malaysia to the U.S. east or west coast.  The costs for shipping them in frozen form would be prohibitive as a result of the constant refrigeration needed for the long shipment period.

Another big Malaysian brand name at the show was Julie’s Mfg. Sdn. Bhd. of Melaka. While Julie’s is a household name in Malaysia and many other countries, its cookies and other products adorn the shelves of, mainly, Asian supermarkets in the U.S.   The company now wants to break into the U.S. mainstream food market. 

“We do sell our products to a mainstream distributor who, however, packages it under his own brand name … however, we want to sell these products in the mainstream market under our own brand of Julie’s,” Martin Ang, the company’s director told Global Trade at the NYFFS.  Ang has regularly participated in the show in the past and has built up a broad business network in the U.S.  Julie’s products are exported to 90 countries around the globe, with exports accounting for some 60% of its total turnover of about US$ 100 million. 

Ang said that Julie’s peanut butter cookies were a fast-selling item in U.S. market; other bestselling items included Le-Mond lemon-flavored biscuits, chocolate/tiramisu biscuits, etc. Ang, who also participates in the Las Vegas food show, finds the New York show attracts more buyers.  Like many other exhibitors at the show, Ang also wished the show would have longer hours, like they have in Europe, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, instead of from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  “They can also extend it by one day to a four-day event and make it worth our investment coming here,” Ang said. 

Buyers were minutely scrutinizing the olive oil products at the individual booths at the large Turkish pavilion. The business of some Turkish exhibitors had been adversely affected by the supply chain disruptions and cargo congestion at U.S. ports.  However, they were happy that their shipments were now being cleared faster than last year at U.S. ports. 

Davut Er, the chairman of the Aegean Olive and Olive Oil Exporters’ Association, the olive oil exporters’ interest group headquartered in Izmir, Turkey, who also owns an olive-oil company Eroglu, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the supply chain situation, adding that  Turkey’s exports in 2022 had been “twice as high” as in 2021. He said that Turkish olive oil exports this year were expected to grow twice as much as in 2022; he was expecting the volume to increase to 100,000 tons in 2023, up from nearly 50,000 tons last year.

But Er lamented that container prices were nearly three times higher from Turkey to the U.S.  “We have encountered delays and disruptions (in deliveries),” he said.  The Turkish government had also stopped giving subsidies to Turkish exporters because of the massive earthquake allocations which had resulted in budget cuts. He said that Turkey’s major competitor was Egypt for table olives.  “However, for olive oil, our competitors are Spain, Greece, Italy, etc.”  He said that the show had “satisfied our expectations”. 

Bedri Girit, the chairman of the 7,000-member strong AEGEAN Aqua and Animal Products Exporters’ Association, said that Turkey exported in 2022 seafood products worth $ 1.5 billion, poultry $ 1.5 billion, dairy products valued at $ 0.5 billion and other food products worth $ 1.640 billion, totaling some $ 4.3 billion. 

Girit said that inflation was a global problem and had dampened the demand for upper-end products. 

Asked to compare the Fancy Food Show with other international trade shows, Girit said that the Dubai food show was more attractive for Turkish companies because Turkish food products were widely marketed in the Middle East whereas the New York Fancy Food Show is a channel to tap the U.S. market. 

“Because of the rising health-consciousness of the average American, there is a trend towards consumption of low-sodium items such as nuts, olive oil, salmon fish, etc.  Turkey can ship salmon by air cargo which saves time for the buyers.”

Steven Weisensee, the transportation sales manager of Continental Logistics of Cranberry, New Jersey, who had a booth at the show, said that his freight brokerage company handled between 7,000 and 8,000 TEU containers in 2022. The containers come, mainly, from Europe but also from Asia.  “The crisis caused by past disruptions has eased lately,” he noted, pointing out that ports such as Savannah and Georgia were expanding berths and other infrastructure assets. He said that Savannah port was efficiently organized both for truck and rail transportation.  (End)

Side bar – Bill Lynch, SFA President, Calls Show a “Record Breaker” 

In an exclusive interview, Bill Lynch, the President of the Specialty Food Association, which organizes the New York Fancy Food Show, was pleased with the run of the show which he described as a “record breaker” after the gloom that descended during the pandemic. Lynch, who spoke of double-digit growth in the number of exhibitors at this year’s show compared to the pre-pandemic figures, noted that consumer tastes are changing, with people looking for healthy food items. 

“They are looking for alternative foods which are nutritious … global flavors are in and new products keep coming in from different countries,” he said.

When asked to comment about supply chain disruptions, he said that during the pandemic there were supply problems such as access to glass for packaging, port congestion, inflation, scarcity of labor during the pandemic, etc., all of which contributed to delays and shortages. 

Consumers have more access to products and they are paying attention to processing and scrutinizing the environment footprints. 

Morocco was the “partner country” this year with its pavilion presenting a colorful look and its exhibitors showcasing a large array of food and agricultural items. “The ‘partner country’ presentation has been successful and will be continued,” he added. 

Lynch pointed out that 337 million pounds of food were annually exported to the U.S.  He said that educating buyers and consumers in the U.S. about their food products would help the exporting countries penetrate the U.S. market. 

The SFA has been working closely with a number of countries and has sent missions to countries such as Italy to help the suppliers showcase their products at the Fancy Food Show in New York. 

As demand for display space grows, Lynch revealed that the SFA was looking at expanding or utilizing “to the fullest” any unutilized space.  


ports detention reshoring

Average Demurrage and Detention Charges Witness a 25% Dip Globally in 2023; 7 U.S. Ports Rank Highest

Average Demurrage and Detention charges experience a year-on-year decline of 25% in 2023, with a significant 14% decrease compared to the rates in 2020, as found by Container xChange’s annual Demurrage and Detention Charges benchmark report 2023.

However, there are still 11 ports where Demurrage and Detention fees remain higher as compared to 2020. These ports include Antwerp, Jebel Ali, Ningbo, Port Kelang, Rotterdam, Shenzen, Singapore, Tianjin, Xiamen, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou.

Fig 1: D&D fees over the last 4 years across shipping lines for key ports

In an exclusive webinar held in July’23, a powerful panel of speakers from Drewry, S&P Global, and Container xChange discussed the impact of these charges on shippers worldwide amidst the changing dynamics of demand and supply for containers on a global scale.

“There are multiple factors contributing to the inability of these ports to return to normalcy. The significant increase in energy prices, coupled with higher labour costs, and escalating land expenses and port fees, have all played a part,” stated Chantal McRoberts, Director, DSCA Advisory, Drewry

“Furthermore, the implementation of new regulations, particularly those focused on green energy in EU ports, has added to the financial burden. Additionally, the introduction of rules requiring individualized shipment customs clearance, no longer consolidated under one bill of lading, has proven to be time-consuming, as seen in the case of Rotterdam.”, added McRoberts.

Christian Roeloffs, Co-Founder and CEO added, “Bleak expectations for a significant peak season with a substantial increase in volumes, prices, and the potential for congestion and associated charges are evident in our customers. However, a key factor in determining whether you must pay detention charges is the efficiency of your processes and monitoring. How quickly can you act and notify your agent or trucker if something goes wrong, such as a container being forgotten at the terminal. Timely communication is crucial in avoiding unnecessary charges. This holds true in any market situation.”

“Demurrage and detention should ideally be a free market. The number of free days and the charges should be negotiable between parties and carriers, just like any other free market scenario. However, perhaps what needs regulation is the clarity on when the clock starts. Establishing clear time stamps and determining who bears the burden of proof in cases of congestion, where a container cannot be picked up, would be crucial. Payment should only commence once the terminal is able to release the container. These aspects warrant attention and potential regulation.”, he added.

Shipping Industry Facing New D&D Challenges as U.S Regulators Prepare for Decisions

Demurrage and Detention (D&D) rates in the shipping industry have reached unprecedented levels, especially with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) set to make crucial decisions. 

Commenting on the new regulations, Christian said, “The pending U.S foreign trade regulator’s decisions on new shipping line regulations “will significantly impact D&D practices” and could even reshape the landscape, bringing both challenges and opportunities.”

The D&D annual report highlights Drewry’s perspective that the FMC must strike a balance between the conflicting needs of cargo owners and shipping lines. Before the pandemic, shipping lines prioritized revenue generation, considering factors like cargo weight and equipment availability when making occupancy decisions. Regulating these market factors presents challenges for the FMC, especially since a substantial portion of US exports fall into low-income and heavyweight categories.

In April 2023, even before the official FMC decision, major carriers like Maersk, MSC, HMM, and Hapag-Lloyd contemplated waiving D&D surcharges on weekends and holidays when terminals are closed. Additionally, the Port of Houston stopped charging import container storage fees during closed terminal gates but raised daily rates in specific positions by 32% starting May 1.

Operational Challenges Likely to Impact D&D Charges Amid Uncertain Demand Recovery

Commenting on the shipping forecast for the upcoming holiday season, Eric Johnson Senior Editor, Technology JOC, S&P Global Market Intelligence, said, “In a very recent conversation with a Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) about their thoughts on a major trans-Pacific shipment, we came to know that they don’t expect the demand to recover until after the Lunar New Year next year. This matches what we’re hearing in general.”

“So, if we assume that’s the case, the focus shifts to operational issues at important ports that we need to consider avoiding delays or additional charges once the container is out of the terminal. It becomes more about specific factors in the field that could cause delays in returning containers on time, rather than relying on a big overall economic improvement to drive demand. With each passing day, it seems less likely that there will be a quick demand recovery.”

U.S. Ports Rank Highest in average Demurrage and Detention (D&D) charges

Out of all the ports worldwide, those in North America stand out as the most expensive when it comes to Demurrage and Detention (D&D) charges. Leading this list of costly ports are New York, Oakland, and Los Angeles, taking the top three spots.

Fig 2: Accumulative D&D fees across shipping lines for North American ports: 2023

Even though these ports take the top 7 spots in our ranking table, the overall average charge has at least decreased by 25% in 2023 and stands at a value of $2008 per container per day (coming down from $2692 in 2022). The late fees at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach surpassed by another western port, Oakland.

Fig 3: D&D fees over the last 4 years across shipping lines for North American ports





port houston porto rule container

New Federal Rule Threatens to Shut Down Four of Florida’s Seaports

Newly proposed rules by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) pose a clear and present danger to Florida’s economy, its public safety and the security of our nation, the Florida Ports Council (FPC) said today. These federal rules would impose the most restrictive regulations on navigable waters from Pensacola to Tampa Bay, resulting in a near shut down of essential food, fuel, medical supplies and cargo imports and exports at four of Florida’s most active Gulf of Mexico seaports.

NOAAs proposal calls for eliminating all nighttime vessel traffic, and significantly reducing daytime vessel speeds, impacting Port Tampa BaySeaPort ManateePort Panama City and Port of Pensacola. The rule, NOAA says, is designed to protect a newly discovered whale, with a population size of between 50-100 whales, that is known to traverse the entire Gulf of Mexico region, and is not just limited to Florida waters.

Implicit in the federal government’s call for eliminating nighttime vessel traffic and reducing daytime vessel speeds only in Florida between Pensacola and Tampa Bay, is an uninformed assertion that Florida’s seaports have limited operations and shutting them down would not harm the supply chain in Florida or the broader United States.

Below is an outline of the economic, public safety and national security impacts of the proposed rule.



Florida’s 16 Seaports:

  • Florida seaports saw record-high cargo in 2022.
  • 112.5 million tons of cargo moved,
  • 4,310,054 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) moved,
  • Accounted for 13.3 percent of Florida’s GDP,
  • Supported 900,000 jobs, and
  • Contributed $117.6 billion to Florida’s economy.

Port Tampa Bay (1 of 4 Fuel Ports):

  • One of the nation’s fastest growing seaports.
  • Handled more than 33 million tons of cargo with an economic value of $17 billion in FY 2022.
  • All cargo will be impacted by the proposed NOAA rule.
  • More than 6,400 ships called on the port in FY 2022. That’s 17+ ships each day. All vessels traveled at night in the Gulf of Mexico for part of their transit.
  • More than 7,677,245 net tons of domestic petroleum products came into the port in FY 2022, all with a nighttime aspect to their transits in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Read Port Tampa Bay’s Seaport Spotlight

SeaPort Manatee (1 of 4 Fuel Ports):

  • $5.1 billion economic value annually.
  • 33.4 percent of its ship traffic, reflecting a $1.7 billion value, will be impacted by this proposed rule.
  • 325 cargo vessels that call on this port, representing 33.4 percent of all ship traffic, traverse to and from this port at night.
  • 96 fuel ships, representing 10 percent of all fuel vessels that call on this port, traverse to and from this port at night.
  • Read SeaPort Manatee’s Seaport Spotlight.

Port Panama City:

  • 2.03 million tons of cargo was handled at this regional seaport in FY 2022, with the majority of cargo traversing at night in the Gulf of Mexico for part of its travels.
  • $618.8 million in personal income and local consumption
  • Supporting 10,790 total jobs in Northwest Florida and the Southeastern U.S.
  • $1.6 billion in total economic value
  • Read Port Panama City’s Seaport Spotlight.

Port of Pensacola:

  • 425,277 tons of cargo handled in FY 2022, a 55 percent increase year-over-year
  • $300 million in cargo now transits through this port – a 419 percent increase.

PUBLIC SAFETY: Seaports Fuel Florida:

  • Florida is not an oil refining state; therefore fuel/petrol is imported from two neighboring Gulf of Mexico port states – Louisiana and Texas.
  • Of particular impact to the public safety of all Floridians, two of Florida’s four petrol seaports that import fuel – Port Tampa Bay and SeaPort Manatee – are located within NOAA’s proposed rule restriction zone.
  • All four of Florida’s fuel ports play vital roles in keeping everything from airplanes to cars and commercial trucks used for delivering goods and supplies to grocery stores across Florida fueled.
  • More importantly, in times of natural disaster, a nighttime ban on vessel traffic, combined with daytime vessel speed limitations will exacerbate Florida’s ability to recover from storms.


  • All branches of our nation’s military use the Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range (GTTR) for national security training.
  • The GTTR is a multi-service training area that supports simultaneous maritime, air and land training exercises. It is an integral part of the Department of Defense’s Training Resource Strategy.
  • However, NOAAs proposed Vessel Slowdown Zone will restrict live fire munitions to a certain zone.
  • The Defense Support Initiatives Committee has submitted comment to NOAA stating that, “…it is essential that no restriction be placed on Department of Defense or Homeland Security activities.”

The Florida Ports Council has requested to NOAA that they rescind their proposed rule, and take action to work closely with affected ports, maritime industry stakeholders and other to accurately determine the effect any proposal would have on ports and the communities they serve. A copy of the FPCs letter to NOAA can be found here.


The Florida Ports Council and its 16 member ports have a long history of protecting Florida’s environment to preserve the state’s natural environment. Collectively, Florida’s seaports are using innovative technology to champion the use of cleaner, alternative fuels, reducing engine emissions from port equipment, recycling oil used in cranes, capturing more stormwater than ever and ensuring this stormwater is cleaner before it discharged back into the environment.

Additionally, Florida’s ports have played a key role in raising awareness of wildlife and marine life, and supporting efforts like bird sanctuaries, clam restoration, annual Right Whale festivals, and more.

Among the organizations that FPC and its member ports are actively engaged with are:

  • Florida Recycling Partnership,
  • Ocean Alliance Group (chaired by FPC member and Port Tampa Bay Port Director Paul Anderson),
  • Green Marine,
  • Tampa Bay Estuary Program,
  • Maritime Sustainability Team,
  • Manbirtee Key Bird Sanctuary
  • Coral Reef Research and Restoration
  • American and Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating

Call for US Trade Restrictions Against Costa Rica for International Fishing Violations

A call for U.S. Port Access and Import Restrictions to Protect Endangered Sharks and Billfish

An international coalition of 18 Marine Conservation Organizations (MCOs) has presented evidence to the Office of International Affairs, Trade, and Commerce (IATC) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that Costa Rica is in violation of at least two fisheries conventions as well as U.S. Public Law, and its actions threaten populations of endangered sharks and commercial billfish.

The coalition is calling on NMFS to present a negative finding against Costa Rica in its next Biannual Report in 2023 to the US Congress and maintain its status as a nation that repeatedly practices Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. NMFS had already identified Costa Rica as an IUU nation in its 2021 Congressional Report which also highlighted unsustainable fishing problems that the country has since failed to rectify.

IUU fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Until these illegal practices are halted, Costa’ Rica’s fishery threatens marine biodiversity and regional fisheries within the Pacific Central American Coastal Large Marine Ecosystem (PACA). The issuing of a negative finding for Costa Rica by NMFS could deny Costa Rican fishing vessels access to U.S. ports and potential import restrictions on fish or fish products under the U.S. Moratorium Protection Act.

Specifically, the petition lists several violations under the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas treaty (ICCAT), including the illegal take of endangered hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, and thresher sharks, as well as illegal take of swordfish without a quota and overfishing of white marlin. Furthermore, it calls out Costa Rica’s failure to institute an onboard observer program after 12 years of promising one, without which it is impossible to properly document and manage its fisheries. Costa Rica is similarly in violation of its treaty obligations under the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission treaty (IATTC).

A negative listing should be a wakeup call for the Costa Rican government to take corrective actions and lead the process for other countries to take similar measures to comply with their international maritime agreements”, said a hopeful Joe Ryan, of Beyond the Se@. “This is what the world expects from Costa Rica,” affirmed Ryan.

The coalition further calls on the U.S. to encourage a list of actions Costa Rica can take to improve its fishery management practices and prevent a future negative listing including:

  • Immediate implementation of an observer program and requiring the recording and monitoring of bycatch.

  • Prohibition of directed and incidental fishing and commercialization of endangered sharks under Costa Rica’s Wildlife Conservation Law. Incidental catch of endangered sharks should be capped at a level that protects the species, with consequences for any exceedances.

  • Catch limits must be established for sharks that are not listed as endangered to establish a sustainable fishery. Once these limits are surpassed, fisheries must be suspended.

  • Immediate and permanent ban on the use of steel leaders.

  • Implement a six-month Pacific longline seasonal closure (from May to October) during the time when mahi-mahi catch is at its lowest and shark catch is at its highest. Costa Rica´s endangered shark catches are increasing, and what is described as a mahi-mahi fishery actually targets endangered sharks.

  • Promotion of green-stick yellow fin tuna fishing, or trolling, by Costa Rican fleets, and help Costa Rican longliners transition to this form of fishing when the longline fishery is closed during the months of May to October to protect sharks.