Historic flooding in California has led to severe complications with the produce industry. This is particularly bad news for the trucking industry, which has already been suffering due to a drop in economic demand this year. Many truckers rely on produce season as a way to supplement their income, often referred to as the “100 days of summer”. But flood-related diseases have led to the compromise of crop health in plants such as strawberries, lettuce, and tomatoes, among other produce. Already, over 20% of strawberry fields have been submerged underwater since March 10th. It’s currently unclear how many of the plants will be able to be harvested, but the longer they’re exposed to the water, the more likely they will need to be discarded.
With an industry already struggling with record high capacities, a weak produce season could further exacerbate this by leading to lower demand for truckers who rely on the transport of fruits and vegetables. “We need this sort of injection of volumes into the marketplace,” said Mitch Mazzaro, director of temperature-controlled shipments at Austin, Texas-based freight brokerage Arrive Logistics. “We need to keep drivers busy. We need to be able to offer these loads to them. We need to be able to get their wheels turning.” In addition to a weak produce season, truckers are also facing other challenges, such as rising fuel prices and a shortage of drivers. Some trucking companies are responding to these challenges by raising rates, which could lead to higher costs at grocery stores. An article published by Freight Waves outlines the current produce situation and covers which crops will most likely be affected for this season.