Further adding to the delays, Crane said, are U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors, who — because of their own time constraints — won’t come to the dock to inspect the fruit until it’s actually on the dock. Crane said that means that, instead of having the inspector waiting when the fruit arrives, companies have to unload the fruit, call the inspector and then wait for him or her to arrive.
“It has really added uncertainty and cost to the whole deal,” he said. “And unfortunately the one who ends up paying is usually the grower. It’s an added cost of doing business in the U.S.A.”
But things may get better for produce shippers as the holiday season nears. Most goods for retail holiday sales are shipped through the ports in September and October, which means congestion could ease somewhat by November.