Box Shortage Freezes Meat Exporters

Box Shortage Freezes Meat Exporters

A “dire” shortage of refrigerated shipping containers could slow resurgent meat exports, according to the top executive of the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

“As we are starting to see our exports ramp up, we are obviously experiencing a shortage of containers,”
Philip M. Seng, the federation’s president and CEO, said in a May 27 conference call with reporters.

He said the shortages are less severe than they were two years ago but remain a problem, particularly in the trans-Pacific trade. “There is a shortage now. We’re concerned that it could get worse... Hopefully it won’t retard sales too much,” Seng said.

Beef exports were up 11 percent in volume, while pork was down 4 percent and lamb was up 20 percent, in the first quarter of the year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. “I think we’ve done very well in the current economic environment,” Seng said.

He said exporters’ competitive position is hurt by the failure of the U.S. to conclude trade agreements with key countries such as South Korea, Colombia and Panama. “If we don’t have these signed... it hurts all of our industry,” he said.