Now that the labor dispute that has snarled West Coast ports for weeks has ended, although it may take up to three months for the backlog to be cleared out, companies that rely on the ports for importing and exporting goods are only now beginning to total up the costs.
The slowdown cost [Washington] state apple and pear shippers $95 million in canceled orders and missed potential sales, said Kate Woods, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, a Yakima-based organization that represents the fruit industry in trade issues.
The most recent crop of California almonds, the state’s top agricultural export, was harvested shortly before cargo ships started getting delayed in November. The congestion only worsened at the 29 West Coast ports, forcing ships to wait offshore to unload huge containers.
For California’s almond farmers and processors, the severe cargo backlogs have raised fears that foreign buyers could cancel contracts for almonds stuck in storage and buy from other countries. Losses would factor into next year’s prices, and market-share cuts could affect sales for years to come. [Emphasis added.]
These costs appear to be the tip of the iceberg, as the direct and indirect costs may not be totaled until next year.