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Apple picking season is upon us and that means CFI is working with many apple exporters to move 40’ Hi-Cube refrigerated containers mainly to Asia, specifically South-East Asia. While we have many years of successful apple export seasons under our belt, several new factors will influence the exporting of this delicious fruit this year.  While we aren’t under the same duress of tariffs, new difficulties include:

  •  The Yakima and Wenatchee Valleys Fires around the orchards are slowing down the apple packing,  as some orchards and/or packing houses have been lost to the fire.  According to several industry sources, the full season, which begins in late Oct-early November, will now be delayed by two weeks.

  •  A lack of labor – COVID19 has hit the people who usually harvest the fruit very hard.  Typically, housing is small, and far too many people share the same space, an ideal breeding ground for COVID19. These cases have not recovered as quickly, creating a lack of labor. 
  • The availability of the 40’ Hi-Cube refrigerated units – Historically, the Trans-Pacific Inbound Trade lane supplies the refrigerated containers for the exports by:

  1.  Empty repositioning Asia to the U.S. West Coast
  2.  Fully operating refrigerated units
  3.  NOR – Non-Operating Refrigerated units, moving as dry containers.

However, due to a robust U.S. economy and U.S. double-digit online purchases connected with COVID19, there is virtually no space on the Trans-Pacific Inbound Trade lane for refrigerated units. Therefore it is anticipated there will be a shortfall of refrigerated equipment this apple season.

Combining the equipment imbalance with less space, as carriers control their liftings, is a recipe for anxious shippers and carriers. 

Despite a severe lack of equipment, by working with the shippers on weekly allocations and keeping an open dialogue with the carriers regarding these allocations, Commodity Forwarders is prepared for the onslaught of apples.  We are watching each carrier’s weekly reports on equipment availability and forecasting.  CFI expects to match each carrier with the bookings required by our shippers for a healthy marriage of the two.

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