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- James H. Sumner
The congestion running rampant through global supply chains is costing refrigerated shippers billions of dollars, even as many importers and exporters are recording record demand and revenue. For exporters such as those represented by the USA Egg and Poultry Export Council (USAPEEC), bottlenecks at ports and inland have cost as much as 20 percent in unrealized business. “We’re set (in 2021) to make a record in exports of around $5 billion,” Jim Sumner, USAPEEC’s president, told a JOC Cool Cargoes webcast in November. “But even though we’re going to set a lot of records this year, that $5 billion could easily have been $6 billion if we could have gotten the product to the port and gotten it on the ship.” Conditions for perishable imports are even worse, according to Juan Alarcon, CEO of Fyffes North America, an importer of fresh produce, mainly bananas, pineapple, and plantains. “The biggest challenge for us is not only shipping; it’s everything in the supply chain, from the sourcing to delivery,” Alarcon told the Cool Cargoes webcast. “You have the cost of fertilization, the cost of the reefer container, plastics, pallets, all the ocean components and the delivery charges, the late arrival in port, the dwell time charges, plus rising costs and difficulties in inland transportation." A shortage of reefer equipment — as well as getting those that are available into position — also is hindering volumes. While carriers use the reefer boxes to move higher-yielding dry cargo, the rising demand for cold chain products also is filling all available capacity. With so many pieces clogging the system and few expecting it to let up before the second half of 2022, how can shippers effectively manage the chaos, especially through the ports? This session will look at the specific pain points, when the various challenges might ease, and how shippers can go about bridging the divide.