The Ag’s Recent Headache: A Shortage of Pallets for Shipping Products News – Bakersfield, California

Water, agriculture, shipping containers, truck drivers – nowadays local farmers no longer seem to have everything that is not real food. And now this: They too are running out of pallets.

An inadequate supply of wooden pallets, which are squat structures that make it easy to move luggage on forklifts, can damage the industry just before the grapes are harvested and farmers’ profits can be lost to packaging costs. There is, or worse, a shortage of agricultural products.

Industry insiders say the types of sturdy pallets claimed by large retailers have recently doubled to more than $ 15 apiece. Even low-end models cost about twice as much as a year ago, and companies selling recycled pallets are having to keep up with demand.

Local product shippers have responded in a number of ways, including asking buyers to temporarily lower standards on pallet types ready to accept fruit and vegetables. But in any case, producers say the shortage is compounding the runaway costs.

In a text message, John P. Zaninovich, president of Jasmine Vineyards, based in Delano, said that only local farms could reduce their exposure to what he called serious pallet shortages. Price estimates won’t take more than a week to rise again, he said.

As a result, new problems appeared in some of the previously stable companies.

He answered when asked how edible winemakers would expect their next harvest in the face of a pallet shortage.

Another Problem

The concurrence of Ag-related bottlenecks exacerbates various urgent challenges in the industry.

Droughts, coupled with restrictions on groundwater pumping, put a strain on irrigation practices as the long-standing shortage of farm laborers has increased the ability of producers to handle crops.

On the other hand, pandemics contribute to port congestion, increased transport costs and delays in deliveries overseas. Another consequence of the coronavirus crisis has been the dramatic exacerbation of the national shortage of truck drivers who can make deliveries.

Business people have pointed out various causes for the recent shortage of pallets.

They say the main driving force is rising timber costs. Shipments that get stuck in the port make the demand for non-perishable goods that have to be stored on pallets more difficult.

Correa Palette, a Pixley-based repair company with an operations in Bakersfield, is struggling more than ever to meet customer demand for pallets, said sales director Martin Correa Jr.

As much as the business is at the peak of the normal harvest, it cannot find a supply of new pallets or recent orders earlier than usual for customers who did not want to pay higher prices. I said I was busy. I started.

Many industries are affected, but he said he recently heard most of the concerns from farmers. He said they were concerned because their crops in the fields were ripe and they couldn’t plan to get their produce to market.

“It would be really interesting to see what happens,” said Correa.

Scared letter

On Wednesday, 19 trade associations, including Western Growers, Produce Marketing Association and other trade associations, issued an open letter requesting “temporary changes or exceptions to pallet requirements, provided that safety is not compromised”. ..

The idea is to allow large retailers and others to relax the usual requirements for shippers to package fresh goods in specific industry standard pallets that are sturdy, attractive and undersupplied. It was to be asked.

Talks on how to deal with the challenges continue around the world, but many buyers said they were not yet aware of the seriousness of the situation.

“The shortage of pallets is a burden on the supply chain, which is already facing major challenges,” says the message in bold.

He added that the industry needs to balance the overall availability of goods with the availability of food.

“Without a coordinated effort across the supply chain to ensure the availability of pallets to ship products, it is very, if not impossible, for the manufacturer / shipper community to meet buyers. There is no doubt that it will be difficult and ultimately consumers will ask about agricultural products. “

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