Port slowdown affecting businesses in Yakima Valley

By Bridget Chapman, November 18, 2014, KIMA TV

Labor problems on the West Side are leaving a mark on businesses here in the Yakima Valley. Fruit warehouses can’t get their products on ships because of the ongoing labor dispute at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.


“We’ve got apples backed up in all of our warehouses,” said Ryan Nesbitt who runs international logistics at Superfresh Growers.


Backed up apples is the last thing an apple growing and shipping company wants so close to the holidays.


“It’s a little bit of chaos right now,” Nesbitt said.


Since the labor dispute began at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, local produce growers and shippers have taken a hit. Managers at Superfresh Growers say they typically ship about 60 full truck loads of apples a week. Now, it’s down to a third of that. That’s four million fewer apples a week.


“Pretty big decrease.”


On top of the apples piling up at the Yakima warehouses, trucks full of apples are waiting to be checked in at the port. There are also containers full of apples waiting to get loaded onto a boat.


“A lot of those aren’t going to make delivery, so we lose those sales completely,” Nesbitt said.


Superfresh Growers says it lost about $350,000 a day when there was a complete standstill. There’s no more standstill, but the company says it’s still losing about $200,000 daily in the slow activity.


“I don’t assume it’s going to stop anytime soon.”


Nesbitt says the company’s big customers this time of year are in Asia. A long trip that’s taking a lot longer than normal because of the dispute at the ports on the West Side.


Managers at Superfresh Growers think it could take involvement from the state’s government to settle the issue. The port slowdown is affecting people and businesses from San Diego to Bellingham.


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