Last spring in Portland, Oregon, the two primary container shipping companies with regularly scheduled service abruptly stopped calling, partly due to a longshoreman strike at the time. The impact was fast; the fallout substantial.
Whereas containers used to be transported directly to the port terminal, they are now transported (mostly) by truck to Tacoma, Seattle, Oakland or ports further way. Many companies — such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear — were affected, but agriculture-based companies — such as Lamb Weston’s potato business and other companies selling commodities like wheat, onions, and corn — were severely affected. Shipping the same products to the same customers overseas now costs between $600 and $1,000 more per container. By some estimates, there are approximately 2,000 more truckloads on the highways every week.