Port disputes delay Valley crop

An ongoing labor dispute involving shipping container ports has led to major delays for many companies.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The West Coast congestion at ports has led to major delays for many businesses. It is a very frustrating time for a Valley nut company.

Processed pistachios have been packed at Nichols Farms and were ready to be driven off to domestic markets. But because of labor troubles at several ports, the company hasn't been able to move much product overseas.

National accounts manager Mary Aceves said $1.9 million worth of Nichols Farms pistachios are stuck at the Port of Oakland. Aceves said, "We have nine containers sitting at the port. Five containers ready to go from here and product that hasn't even been loaded yet ready to go."

Twenty percent of the company's pistachio crop is shipped to Japan, Australia and Europe. The nuts are often stored in large sacks so quality is a concern. Aceves explained, "Pistachios are a very perishable item. When we typically export them out there is no pasteurization process that they go through."

One 40-foot shipping container full of nuts has been sitting in Oakland for two months already. Aceves said moving them by air would be too expensive. "At the mercy of the ports. It's hard for us because it's out of our control and it's a very perishable item so we just hope that it gets to the customer it gets there in the good quality we sent it in." Otherwise the company will take the loss.

Many other items, including food and electronics, are also waiting to be shipped. Businesses hoped to soon see some progress in labor talks involving the shippers association, longshore workers and others.

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