Truck shortage and high rates in California

| 7/1/2002

California's Central Valley is gearing up for the summer produce season with nary a truck in sight to move it. A truck shortage and rising rates have hit the central and desert produce regions of California just as the shipping season begins on July 1.

The rate from California to Boston is about $5,200 in the summer, but as of two weeks ago some truckers were charging as much as $7,000 for the trip. However, shippers now report the cost of trucking produce from California to New York has lowered and is now averaging about $6,200.

Rick Rattazi, vice president of perishables for Johanson Transportation Service in Fresno, says other reasons for the truck shortage include rising fuel prices over the last couple of years, which have eaten away at trucking profits. He says the rates for truckers are about the same as when he started in the business 18 years ago. "With higher insurance rates and fuel costs, a lot of independents have gone out of business," Rattazi told Land Line. "That makes for fewer trucks for shippers.

Rattazi says his company ships on an East-West route and mainly uses reefers. "It's hard to say, but rates may skyrocket again over the long July Fourth holiday," he said. "But I'm glad to see these truckers get more money. It may help straighten out their business."

--Donna Carlson