New Zealand companies are grappling with export shipment delays of up to six weeks as Ports of Auckland struggle to unload ships waiting out at sea.
The log-jam of ships unable to dock and off-load containers of stock is having a knock-on effect for local exporters trying to get stock out of the country. The lack of vacant shipping containers means delays are affecting exporters of all industries.
Nik Mavromatis, sales and marketing manager of Canterbury-based wine brand Greystone Wines says wine companies have been hit hard by outbound shipping delays.
The company has been told to expect six week delays before product can even be loaded into containers to send to offshore markets, while freight forwarder Hillabrand is warning of such delays into the first quarter of 2021.
Greystone Wines has had another six-figure export order cancelled because they cannot get the wine to the export destination in time.
"Normally we'd look at maybe one or two weeks, but at the moment we're looking at six weeks before you can get a booking," Mavromatis told the Herald.
"The Ports of Auckland are having issues with not being able to process things fast enough."
The wine brand has recently lost one order that it had hoped to get to China before Chinese New Year on February 12.
"It seems to be everyone's shipments now in terms of exporting is being delayed and pushed back, and that means it is going to have a flow-on effect for cashflow for exporters."
Mavromatis said Greystone Wines had spoken to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) about the issues, who said this was one all exporters were facing at present.
The Herald understands NZTE is in "high-level talks" with Ports of Auckland to resolve the delays.
"It would be really nice if Ports of Auckland got themselves organised and could actually get back capacity because without tourism New Zealand is fairly reliant on exports - we need to keep the engine of the economy running rather than delaying things.
"We should be doing better than we are."
Greystone exports its wine to Australia, China, Britain and Canada, among others.
Graham Norton-endorsed wine company Invivo Wines is facing similar export headaches.
Rob Cameron, co-founder of Invivo said, the company was faced with a double whammy of delays, as it also waits on 100,000 bottles of its Graham Norton's pink prosecco sitting in a container ship in Waitemata Harbour.
The Waikato-based wine producer exports to the United States, Britain, Ireland, Europe and Asia, and is unsure if its wine order for Easter will get to Europe in time due to the delays.
It works six to 12 months in advance for its global sales and promotions.
Cameron said the lack of containers available to Ports of Auckland was behind the delays in sending out export shipments - caused by the lack of containers coming in.
"It's frustrating for us, we count ourselves as very lucky as we've been in an industry that has survived well during Covid, but we really feel strongly for the many other businesses that have had such tough years and they are not going to get their goods into New Zealand or out of New Zealand to make their Christmas sales," Cameron told the Herald.
"You can make a booking to put a container on a ship at a certain time, but that's dependent on the empty containers being available to fill - and that's the part which is causing the delays and uncertainty.
"When you're a fast-growing exporting company like we are the last thing you want to do is have orders held up by logistics and supply chain issues."
Cameron said the situation was disappointing for New Zealand businesses.
"This one port is having a huge impact on pretty much all (export) businesses in the country and it's a very serious issue."
Ports of Auckland spokesman Matt Ball said the entire global shipping supply chain had been disrupted by Covid-19, and other ports too were experiencing delays with exporting goods.
"Ports around the world are congested, particularly import ports which have been flooded with much higher than predicted demand.
"This in turn is impacting exports as the empty containers needed for exports are delayed in the wider supply chain and shipping services are also delayed. Other ports are affected, including Tauranga, which also handles exports from the Auckland area," Ball said.
"For our part, we simply don't have enough people to handle the current import peak, which started earlier and is lasting longer than normal import peaks. We are hiring more people to deal with this, but it takes time to both hire and train people."