Ocean carriers, eager to exploit U.S. demand for imports over the last couple years, rushed empty containers back to Asia rather than filling them with exports, including California nuts. As a result, California handlers and growers missed important export windows for their almonds, walnuts and pistachios and lost an estimated $2 billion in revenue.
Now, a historic new industry effort has led to solutions to address this inequity as well as other ongoing supply chain issues in order to move nuts in the coming year. The collaborative private public venture has been dubbed the “Central Valley Ramp” shipping solution, which sprang from a cooperative effort between the Almond Alliance, Blue Diamond Growers, Union Pacific Railroad, major west coast ports and ocean carriers.
“There is a stockpile of nuts sitting in warehouses and at docks that have been grown, sold and awaiting delivery to customers. We have found a solution to the challenges of a supply chain breakdown by working together. Because of this historic effort, we are finally bringing these nuts to market, which makes a massive difference for our farmers, economy and communities,” stated Aubrey Bettencourt, President/CEO of the Almond Alliance of California.
The Central Valley Ramp to the Port of Long Beach, with the help of Blue Diamond Growers, Union Pacific Railroad, CMA CGM and Van G Logistics, is the first to come online. The Almond Alliance has pilots underway at the Central Valley Ramp to get the nuts moving and onboard ships.
In addition, the first major update of U.S. international ocean-shipping laws in more than 20 years was passed by the house and senate earlier this year in the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act aimed at easing the problem of ag exports sitting at ports while ocean carriers return to Asia with empty containers.
The measure gives the Federal Maritime Commission an updated toolbox to protect exporters, importers and consumers from unfair practices, updating the watchdog’s authority to regulate the industry for the first time since 1998. Details on the Ocean Shipping Reform Act can be found here.
Marni Katz has lived and raised her family in the San Joaquin Valley for nearly 30 years. In that time, she has covered agriculture for a number of leading ag publications and organizations and gained a reputation for understanding and digesting complex information and presenting it to growers. She enjoys learning about new ways growers can farm more profitably and efficiently, and working with researchers and stakeholders to bring that information to the growing community. In her free time, Marni plays saxophone with jazz groups throughout the Valley and is an avid tennis nut.