Canada’s turning away unvaccinated U.S. truckers at the border, and it’s causing chaos in fresh produce markets.
Canadian border agents began refusing entry to unvaccinated American truckers just days ago, and it’s already causing chaos -- particularly in fruit and vegetable markets.
A mandate starting Jan. 15 requires truck drivers crossing into Canada to be vaccinated. However, only about half of American truck drivers have gotten their shots. Meanwhile, as much as 90% of Canada’s fruits and vegetables comes from the U.S. during winter, and grocery stores are already having trouble getting some shipments, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers.
“We’re seeing shortages,” said Gary Sands, senior vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. “We’re hearing from members they’re going into some stores where there’s no oranges or bananas.'”
The mandate is adding to Canada’s supply chain turmoil that was already abundant due to recent storms as well as the pandemic. Shipping snarls and logistical headwinds have been blamed for rising inflation across the globe. Prices for consumers will likely rise as freight costs soar. Sending one truckload of fresh produce from California or Arizona to Canada is now $9,500, up from an average of $7,000, according to North American Produce Buyers. That works out to an additional cost of 12 Canadian cents per head of lettuce, according to the company.
The price to bring food and other exports over the border has doubled on some routes given the drop in eligible truckers, according to Alex Crane, operations manager at Paige Logistics, a freight broker in Surrey, British Columbia. That’s leaving hundreds of shipments bound for the U.S. waiting in warehouses to be picked up and trucked when and if carriers can find drivers to haul them, he said. The goods include everything from food to plumbing parts to gazebos.