North American exporters are having a hard time scheduling ocean transportation to the Far East. Industry experts indicate that shipping lines are thriving with huge Asian cargo volumes bound for the U.S. West Coast. Unfortunately, North American export trade is secondary and is often a step-child for ocean cargo services.
Because of willingness to pay high rates, goods imported to Washington State from the Far East, shipping lines are profiting nicely. As a result, for exporters, vessel schedules have been unreliable.
The Washington Apple Committee has heard from grower-members that there are huge challenges in getting space onboard container ships. To help that situation, Melanie Stambaugh, of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which represents the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, said her group’s imports are up 25% this year.
In April exports from Seattle and Tacoma were down 11%, indicating that Seattle and Tacoma “are trying to incentivize exports.” The ports are finding unused dock warehouses that can hold perishable products until a shipping opportunity arises. If exporters have a place to hold their products it alleviates the extra transportation cost of running back and forth between their own warehouse and the port.