Holiday Treats Expected to Cost More During Supply Chain Crisis

By Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
December 22, 2021 Updated: December 22, 2021

Plenty of chestnuts will be available for roasting on an open fire this season, but supply chain slowdowns are expected to affect the cost and availability of many other holiday treats across the country during the holidays.

Making “George Washington’s Eggnog,” a popular online recipe, could be a pricey treat this year. The recipe calls for one quart of cream or milk, which is up around 40 cents per gallon from the average last year, as dairy farmers struggle to find a way to get their products to market.

Then there’s the one dozen tablespoons of sugar, which will cost about 3 percent more than last year. The recipe also calls for a one pint of brandy, a half-pint of rye whisky and Jamaica run, and one-quarter pint of sherry. Alcoholic beverages will cost consumers around 2 percent more this year compared to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Let’s not forget the eggs. The recipe calls for one dozen, which will also cost 8 percent more.

Part of the shipping backup has been blamed on the overload of containers filled with consumer goods that are piled up at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The average length of time that cargo containers have been stored at the port waiting to be shipped via trucks has reached record highs for the past five months, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

The association reported that half of the local cargo remained at the port in November, reaching an average stay of more than 8 days. That was up from 47 percent in October.

“The pandemic-related surge continues, the overall supply chain remains congested, and local container dwell time continues to be high,” said Jessica Alvarenga, manager of government affairs for the association.

The backlog of containers this year caused one California walnut farmer to miss out on shipping his product in time for Christmas.

In Northern California, fifth-generation farmer Chris Fedora of Fedora Farms, who operates a walnut farm with his brother in Meridian, Calif., said they are just now beginning to receive some shipping containers after this year’s severe shortage.

The container backup made it impossible for the farm to send its product internationally to the United Kingdom and Germany in time for Christmas season.

“Now, it’s kind of a big catch-up game,” Fedora told The Epoch Times.

The walnuts are harvested in October and take about 35 days to ship by sea, usually arriving at the end of November.

“Because of the delay, we’ve kind of missed those shipping windows,” Fedora said.

Fedora estimates the farm will see a 25-30 percent decrease in sales compared to last year. About 165,000 tons of product will not be sold, he said.

The walnuts will still be able to sell on the domestic market, but the price will drop, he said.

“We’ll get it out eventually and we’ll find other markets, but it won’t be sold at the higher prices that we were hopeful for,” Fedora said.

Another popular holiday item, chestnuts, are mostly sold to markets within the U.S. That hasn’t been as affected, Steven Jones of Colossal Orchards in Washington told The Epoch Times.

“The only thing we get affected by is lessened truckloads,” Jones said. “We haven’t seen any shipping issues.”

However, Jones said about 60 percent of the dairy products produced by Dairygold Co-op, a group of about 325 dairy farmers in Washington and Idaho, is sitting in warehouses waiting for space on ships to export to Asia and Mexico.

“Dairy is a way bigger issue than chestnuts,” Jones said.

Fred Rau Dairy in Fresno, family owned for 79 years, has struggled to get parts to repair tractors and heavy equipment because of the supply backlog, said co-owner Lauren Reid. The farm is also seeing a problem with purchasing feed and fertilizer, she said.

Most of the growth in the dairy industry is from selling to Asia. That has been impacted by the shipping industry’s decision to send back empty containers to China and elsewhere before filling them up with agricultural products, Reid said.

“We are seeing some retraction in response to movement of goods and how shipping containers are being moved around,” Reid said.