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Australian exporters feel the pinch as shipping container shortage, COVID-19 protocols take a toll

Australian food exporters are being caught in a global supply chain crunch as a shortage of food-grade shipping containers drives up costs and slashes the shelf life of fresh produce.

After the grounding of international airlines all but crushed the air freight trade, many producers looked to the sea as an avenue to the market.

But that channel is narrowing as global container shortages and booming consumer demand blow out transit times.

The container shortage is also compounding the challenges faced by exporters, who are experiencing significant delays at international ports because of stringent COVID-19 management protocols.

Short shelf life

The WA Meat Marketing Cooperative (WAMMCO) exports premium lamb products to international markets, including the United States.

It is facing delays of about 10 days to secure appropriate containers for key export markets.

“Shipping around the world is happening very slowly, so we are having a lot of difficulties getting chilled product to our markets in adequate time to fill our shelf life in supermarkets,” WAMMCO chairman Craig Heggaton said.

“It’s hard enough getting hold of the container, then it gets to the port and sits there for an extra 10 to 20 days … so that’s less time on the supermarket shelf life before it expires.

“If it sits at Fremantle for another 20 days, plus 30 days on a boat, we’ve only got a 70 or 80 day product — that leaves 30 days on a shelf.


Source: Abc

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