The coronavirus epidemic is upending the carefully calibrated logistics of global shipping, as plunging exports from China disrupt the trade of American goods, especially farm products such as fruit and meat destined for Asia.
Congestion at Chinese ports and interrupted sailings have squeezed space on China-bound vessels and created an imbalance of the 40-foot long refrigerated containers used to ship fruit, meats and other perishables on three-week voyages across the Pacific, with many stuck on the China side.
It’s the height of California’s orange-growing season, but truckers for Fast Way Xpress Inc., who haul oranges and other produce from the Central Valley to the port of Oakland, have waited in line there for empty refrigerated containers for up to four hours. By the time the drivers reach the shipping terminal, they sometimes then discover all the containers are gone.
“The lines are so long it looks like the L.A. freeway,” said Carleton Booker, the company’s director of sales and operations.
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