Nevada starting to feel effects of West Coast port lockout
RENO — Yerington farmer Butch Peri is starting to feel the pinch of the West Coast port lockout and he’s unhappy about it.
He said a $60,000 shipment of onions from his operation in Peru is sitting in a Southern California port and will spoil if the weeklong dispute isn’t resolved soon.
“I’ve got three loads of Peruvian onions just sitting out in Long Beach, melting,” said Peri, president of Peri and Sons Farms Inc. “I had them sold to Costco, Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart, but I had to cancel the orders because I can’t get them off the boat.”
In Reno, Guy Packer, president of Packer Transportation Co. and Packer Logistics, said he’s seen a 20 percent drop in business as he struggles to find loads for his trucks.
“Products coming in by ship have definitely put a hurt to us,” he told a Reno newspaper. “We’re usually 95 percent loaded. Now it’s dropped to 65 percent.”
In Fernley, tons of compressed hay bales sit idle at a plant, awaiting the resumption Port of Oakland operations that will take them to Asia.
“We have no containers to put it in,” said Walt Tibbals, a manager at Lin Cubing Inc.’s plant 30 miles east of Reno. “We usually ship 15 to 30 loads a month. Now, we’re just not shipping anything.”
At least one Reno import retailer, World Curio in Park Lane Mall, has been spared any inconvenience.
“We haven’t felt anything at this time,” said co-owner Don Halama, whose inventory of gifts comes mostly from China. “We got a jump on the holiday season, and we’re just about stocked up.”
Several Reno supermarkets reported plentiful supplies of bananas and other imported produce.
But things could change if the port lockout drags on.
“If this goes into next week, you’ll see some selected products go into short supply. Bananas, especially, is what I’m hearing,” said David Heylen of the California Grocers Association, whose 600 members include Nevada companies.
The list of hard-to-find produce could include avocados, papayas and pineapples, Heylen said.
“But so far, some of the majors like Albertsons and Safeway have been able to do a lot or rerouting from ports on the Gulf Coast,” he said.
Peri said the American economy, not just his family’s onion and alfalfa operations, will suffer because of the port closures.
“It’s bad timing on their part,” Peri said. “The stock market’s down, unemployment is up and this is costing $1 billion a day. So why do it now and create a bigger problem for the American economy?”