The dockers’ strike at 29 ports on the US West Coast between 29 September and October 10 and the subsequent lockout has affected Arla Foods’ cheese exports to North America.
Several consignments of Arla Foods’ Havarti and blue cheese to California via the Panama Canal were delayed by the striking 10,500 dockers. When the strike ended on October 9, following intervention by President George W. Bush, hundreds of vessels were waiting to offload their cargo at Californian ports, including Oakland, the entry port for Arla Foods’ exports to the western part of the United States.
”Sales to wholesalers on the West Coast are substantial and we have tried to help by supplying them from our warehouses in New Jersey and Wisconsin,” explains Marketing Manager Jens Kauffmann, Arla Foods USA.
At the outbreak of the strike, Arla Foods’ Overseas Division immediately responded by re-routing some consignments to New York and offloading others in Mexico and Panama.
”We’ve done our best to supply wholesalers by rail or road,” said Per Rummelhoff, Export Co-ordinator at the Overseas Division. ”However, since everyone else has done the same, this has been quite complicated.” Rummelhoff expects the situation to return to normal within the next four weeks. With the Christmas season approaching, the stoppage has meant some disruptions to the preparations for one of the peak seasons for cheese sales.
This Maersk container vessel was one of hundreds waiting for the strike to end off the West Coast of the United States.