West Coast Port Shutdown and Citrus; Duda’s Paul Huckabay and California Citrus Mutual's Joel Nelsen Weigh In
UNITED STATES – Terminal Operators at ports across the West Coast temporarily suspended operations over the weekend, citing “ongoing union slowdowns.”
California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen responded by saying, “Today’s announcement by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) further jeopardizes California citrus exports as the industry reaches what would normally be peak demand for California fruit.”
Joel continued, “Last October we began warning those in government about impacts to our $2.4 billion industry that historically exports 25% of its fresh tonnage; that warning manifested into little action.”
According to a press release, California navel oranges and lemons begin a major push into China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and other smaller countries in late December, and the export market runs well into April.
Paul Huckabay, Sales Manager for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, tells AndNowUKnow that congestion at the ports has led Duda to pursue a new strategy.
“Exporting our fresh citrus to overseas markets has certainly been a part of our overall business plan for this season, but due to the recent developments with the port congestion, we have shifted gears so to speak and redirected our focus to North American Markets,” Paul said.
He added, “There are still 3-4 months left in our 2014-2015 citrus season, and we have high hopes that these issues will be resolved so that we can resume our export business.”
According to the California Citrus Mutual, for the 2012/13 seasons, the industry exported nearly 28 million cartons of navel oranges with an estimated value of $385 million. Lemons ranked second with six million cartons at a $109 million value.
For now, West Coast ports have reopened, and the two sides are still in negotiations with the help of a federal mediator. Hopefully a resolution can be decided upon soon.
Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow for the latest update on the developing story.