For this Lunar New Year, many Chinese people may feel a little less "Chinese" because their favorite decorations and festival foods are stranded on container ships at anchor off the US' West Coast thanks to a protracted labor dispute between the longshoremen's union and port employers.
"We were short of traditional Chinese pastry, sweets, soybean sauce, noodles and especially the popular New Year gift baskets," said Taylor Chow, spokesman for the Oriental Food Association in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose members import food from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The nine-month slowdown caused by the labor stand-off at West Coast ports, critical gateways for US-Asia trade, has crippled the container traffic and disrupted the supply chain, hitting Chinese food distributors who had expected more business during the 15-day Chinese New Year, which lasts from Feb 19 till March 5. [via @chinadailyusa]
The recent escalation of the dispute has dramatically slowed US farm and manufacturing goods as well, said Stanley Kwong, professor of international marketing at University of San Francisco.
"It was especially damaging for fresh fruit growers as loads of California fresh citrus were stranded in warehouses rotting on the docks. The just-in-time delivery system used by many factories and retailers leaves little margin for delay," he said.
"The Spring Festival period is normally the busiest time of year for local packers sending citrus to Asia," said Kwong. California producers who rely on foreign exports include growers of fresh fruit, alfalfa, almonds, walnuts, rice and wine grapes.