LIHUE — Esaki’s Produce was expecting an airfreight delivery of produce from the Mainland on Thursday afternoon, but it didn’t arrive.
Instead, a few items were delivered from neighbor islands, and that will have to tide over Esaki’s customers, including grocers like Foodland and Safeway, until Saturday morning’s delivery.
“This warehouse is gonna be packed with all kind stuff come tomorrow and next day,” said Esaki’s Earl Kashiwagi on Thursday.
“All the back-shipments are coming in.”
Esaki’s Produce doesn’t usually fly their shipments to Kauai, normally relying on Matson to transport them via boat in deliveries that are made twice a week — Tuesdays and Fridays.
But, for the past two weeks, Esaki’s has been shipping its wares in through Hawaiian Airlines to combat about a month of delayed shipping at sea.
It’s impacting other islands as well, with reports of empty shelves on Oahu grocery stores, and Matson officials confirming Tuesday that mechanical problems and bad weather have thrown a wrench in operations.
“We had delays the past two weeks, first because of a Pacific storm and then a vessel needed repairs. Then a second vessel needed repairs and both took longer than expected,” Matson spokesman Keoni Wagner.
He said the next barge is set for Kauai today, and they’ve sent barges to Oahu.
“We’ve unloaded a lot of cargo these last couple days,” he said
But, on Kauai, most grocery stores have been flush with produce thanks to Esaki’s quick switch to airfreight after the company learned of the shipping challenges.
“We pulled the container back in Los Angeles and booked Hawaiian Airlines for two weeks,” Kashiwagi said. “That’s why Kauai never knew there was a problem.”
Honolulu-based distributor Armstrong Produce told Associated Press on Thursday that it’s been facing shipping delays since December.
“I cannot remember this kind severe weather being this long-lasting,” Armstrong Produce CEO Mark Teruya told AP Thursday.
Today, that tide is changing, and the boats, already docked in Honolulu, are coming to Kauai with plenty of goods to go around.
That means Esaki’s workers will be stockpiling the warehouse late tonight and will be making deliveries Saturday morning.
“Everything should be all right,” Kashiwagi said.
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.