BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast Produce Distributors warehouse in Biloxi would normally be packed with workers crisscrossing to fill restaurant orders for fresh produce, but this week, work has become a slow crawl because the supplies aren’t coming in for them to ship out.
Shipments to the regional distributor that come from the west and north have virtually stopped.
“Logistically, it’s been a nightmare with transportation to get from California to get to Biloxi, even Tennessee trucks that we bring in to Biloxi have all been hampered by this ice and snow,” said Christi Alise, president and owner of Gulf Coast Produce Distributors Inc.
Alise also added “The fresh produce industry is like the stock market. It changes by the hour, it changes by the day, the prices get affected by the weather, fuel is affected, logistics is affected, the quality of the product is affected.”
Locally, the limitations have been an inconvenience for restaurants, but not a deal-breaker. Restaurants that normally would order pre-cut products had to accept whole products, which resulted in them manually cutting them.
“Some of them (delivery trucks) had to stay put where they were and that puts days behind for us on receiving the products,” said Alise. “And in return, it puts a damper on the restaurants because they also depend on us to ensure that we’re supplying all their fresh produce and their needs so they can feed their guests.”
Not only could they not get product in, but in some cases, they couldn’t ship to areas hit by the icy weather.
“I hate to tell anyone, I can’t get to your market, but Jackson and Lafayette for the last two days, it’s just been too dangerous for our drivers,” said Alise.
Fast food restaurants in the area have been hit harder, and at least two Wendy’s on the Coast closed temporarily because their distribution center is in Texas.
A spokesman for Wendy’s stated: “Due to a severely reduced delivery of supplies, we have taken the measure of moving existing supplies/inventory to centrally located Wendy’s to keep them up and operational while temporarily closing some of our locations.”
Damage to farms in the regions not normally hit by freezing temperatures could have a long-term impact on the market.
“This frost and this freeze, fresh produce can not survive,” Alise said. “They’re going to assess their land in the next couple of days and see what the total loss is for their commodities that they grow.”