Papaya shipments from Brazil are on hold due to widespread strikes. ( HLB Specialties )

Trucker strikes in Brazil over high fuel prices have interrupted papaya exports from the country.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based importer HLB Specialties usually receives shipments almost daily, but due to the strikes it has not received papayas from Brazil since May 21, director of communications Melissa Hartmann de Barros said May 29.

Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals also reported it had not received Brazilian papayas since early the week of May 21.

Vice president of sales and marketing Peter Leifermann said the company is monitoring the situation and hopeful for a quick and lasting resolution.

The company does not expect another shipment of the fruit before June 1.

“This is an unfortunate situation that has been brewing for a while, and our thoughts are with the people of Brazil,” Leifermann said. “We can only hope that the domestic strife does not get any worse.”

HLB Specialties explained in a news release May 25 that 200 blockades in 24 of the 27 states in the country have made it impossible to reach airports in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, from which HLB normally ships fruit. Drivers have blocked roads with burning tires and tree limbs.

Hartmann de Barros said one of HLB’s suppliers has its packing and cold storage space full — thousands of pounds of fruit with nowhere to go. The roadblocks are pervasive to the extent that, along with airports being inaccessible, local stores are not being supplied.

With that being the situation, the supplier’s packinghouse is not operating, and fruit on trees is not being picked as scheduled because there is nowhere to store it, Hartmann de Barros said. Papayas currently in storage are ripening up and thus may have to eventually be sold in Brazil rather than exported, meaning shipments to the U.S. may not resume until after more fruit is harvested.

Oil prices have been rising due to uncertainties in major producing countries Iran and Venezuela, according to the release.

 
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