The group will focus on seaports on the West Coast of the US, where a majority of dairy products begin their export journey, as well as opportunities to streamline the movement of products from the interior of the US to the West Coast.
The announcement was made by Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, and Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA.
The Dairy Exports Working Group will examine several ocean shipping and rail challenges and solutions, including exploring ways to aggregate and streamline US dairy exports from multiple suppliers to ensure more consolidated and attractive bookings, and working to increase rail availability in the interior of the US to reach non-coastal exporters.
The groups will also determine the viability of implementing a “fast lane” concept for vessels agreeing to depart full or with fewer empty cargo containers, as well as defining agreed terms for exporters using empty containers currently languishing at US ports, and will also look at establishing guarantees to fix and surpass ghost bookings.
“U.S. dairy exports reached a near-record $6.4bn in 2020 and continued to set a blazing pace in 2021 due to surging global demand, but the US dairy industry could be exporting much more to destinations around the world if there was more reliability and predictability in the supply chain,” Dykes said.
“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 US dairy supply chain that will result if exports continue to languish.”
“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,” Soroka said.
“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.”
Ed Aldridge, president of CMA CGM and APL North America, said, “At CMA CGM, we are committed to supporting America’s farmers and taking bold actions to ensure they get their goods to market in a timely manner. With the Dairy Exports Working Group, we will have all the right players in the room. This collaborative partnership will enable us to quickly implement innovative solutions designed to not only help the dairy industry with current supply chain challenges, but also to pave the way for the future.”
The IDFA said greater predictability and reliability in the US dairy supply chain, which has been severely strained for months, is essential to the current and future success of the U.S. dairy industry. It said the current situation is costing US dairy companies millions of dollars and damaging the credibility and reputation of U.S. dairy exporters among global customers, citing as an example dairy exporters having to airfreight product more than ever before, sometimes at 20 times the cost, to meet overseas contracts.
The announcement comes after talks between IDFA, member company leadership, and selected ports and carriers in an attempt to develop market-led solutions to the supply chain challenges facing US dairy exports. 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 the viability of America’s dairy industry.