Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

Working Group to Tackle Supply Chain Issues Facing U.S. Dairy Exports

Mike Schuler
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January 25, 2022

The Port of Los Angeles, French shipping group CMA CGM, and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) have announced the formation of a working group aimed at identifying and addressing supply chain issues hampering U.S. dairy product exports.

The Dairy Exports Working Group will focus on seaports on the West Coast of the United States, where a majority of dairy products are exported from, as well as opportunities to streamline the movement of products from the interior of the United States to the West Coast.

The announcement was made Monday at Dairy Forum 2022, an annual conference organized by IDFA in Palm Desert, California, by Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, and Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of IDFA.

The working group will seek to examine ocean shipping and rail challenges and solutions to help aggregate and streamline U.S. dairy exports, increase rail availability for non-coastal exporters, and explore the implementation of a “fast lane” concept for vessels agreeing to depart full or with fewer empty cargo containers. The group will also define agreed terms for exporters using empty containers currently languishing at U.S. ports and establishing guarantees to fix and surpass ghost bookings.

“U.S. dairy exports reached a near-record $6.4 billion in 2020 and continued to set a blazing pace in 2021 due to surging global demand, but the U.S. dairy industry could be exporting much more to destinations around the world if there was more reliability and predictability in the supply chain,” said Michael Dykes, President and CEO of IDFA. “Our IDFA members are pleased to collaborate with the Port of Los Angeles and the CMA CGM Group in this Dairy Exports Working Group on potential market-based solutions to clearing bottlenecks at our West Coast ports and land and rail systems. This type of collaboration is essential to avoid significant future disruptions to the U.S. dairy supply chain that will result if exports continue to languish.”

Monday’s announcement comes after weeks of talks between IDFA, member company leadership, and selected ports and ocean carriers in an attempt to develop market-led solutions to the supply chain challenges facing U.S. dairy exports, which have been “severely strained” for months, costing U.S. dairy companies millions of dollars and damaging their credibility and reputation with global buyers.

“American dairy exporters have been hard hit by supply chain challenges and trade policy that have made it difficult to get their goods to global markets,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “I’m pleased to collaborate with our dairy industry partners and the CMA CGM Group to launch this working group and find solutions that will benefit not only the dairy industry but all American exporters. We look forward to others joining this important initiative.”

The IDFA has also been advocating heavily with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other agencies to raise awareness and ensure protection of America’s dairy industry.

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