Bay Area businesses hit hard by broken supply chain and port disarray

The broken worldwide supply chain is affecting everything from apples to zucchini, from toilet paper to tube tops, even from carpaccio to corks, eve as the holiday shopping season looms. 

Two local companies are battling the supply lines and congested ports as best they can.

For more than two decades, Italian Harvest, a small South San Francisco direct importer, has sold artisan, packaged Italian made foods retailed mainly on the west coast. 

Since the company imports only 18 sea containers per year, any significant delay has consequences for the mom and pop operation.

The delays quickly doubled from 6 weeks to more than three months. 

"There was a period in which we were desperately without goods about 3 to 4 to 6 months ago," said Italian Harvest co-founder John Blount. 

To blunt that delay, over the last year, Italian Harvest has been ordering more than usual, at great cost, to assure that it can fill customer orders. But is still awaiting those containers. 

"Maybe Christmas at this point for those two containers loading in Italy right now. All of a sudden our bills have gone up. The cost of shipping has risen 25 to 30 percent," said Blount.

At Napa's Portocork, a major importer of corks for wineries, the company, seeing the port supply chain falling apart, ordered way more corks than needed. long before they were needed. 

"It has not helped the balance sheet because we're carrying a heck of a lot more inventory than we typically would. But, we've did what we had to do to satisfy clients," said Portocork CEO Dustin Mowe. 

But, those winery clients tell Portocork that they're faced with a raft of other shortages. 

"They said, 'Hey look, I can't bottle. I don't have glass or, I can't bottle. I don't have labels or I don't have capsules.' And. a lot of these products come from Europe or China," said Mowe.

As a result, the company is good shape for now but cork shortages could become a major issue for Portocork in November. 

"We don't see the situation getting any better. We do not see the end where things will be improving," said Mowe. 

This is true throughout the world's broken supply chain. 

"So it actually impacts everybody from the top and all the way to the consumer," said Blount.

With the holidays now fast approaching, we will be seeing the effects of a broken supply chain and port disarray up close and personal, in stores and online.

Port of Los Angeles seeing cargo backups amid surging consumer product demand. (Photo: KTTV-TV September 3, 2021)

The next closest major port, the Port of Los Angeles, is also experiencing its own major backup. Officials there say they a record amount of cargo is being moved through its port.