Island food supplies ‘critically low’

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  • The Oleander has been delayed in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey (File Photograph)

    The Oleander has been delayed in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey (File Photograph)

Fresh food supplies are “critically low” after cargo ship Oleander was marooned in New Jersey because of a breakdown, an island supermarket manager warned yesterday.

Jasper Guevarra, Arnold’s Discount Warehouse manager, said: “We’re running critically low on most of our produce items.”

He said this included items such as fresh vegetables, fruit and fresh juices.

Mr Guevarra added that the Hamilton store had received calls from customers about items that would normally be advertised at special prices in The Royal Gazette.

He said: “It is out of our hands; we are doing as much as we can.”

Mr Guevarra was speaking after it was revealed that an unspecified mechanical problem on the container ship, which was scheduled to dock in Bermuda last Sunday, meant it will not return to the island until the end of this week.

Supermart produce manager Carlos Veloso said the Front Street supermarket had added to an air order scheduled to arrive last night owing to the cancelled trip.

He added: “Some of the shelves have looked a bit sad at the start of this week because we did not get our usual Oleander delivery.

“We have increased our air order to deal with the situation, and this should arrive on Tuesday night and be in the shop on Wednesday.

“In the last few days we have reached out to local vendors where we can to boost stock, but we have been out of produce like strawberries and chickens.

“Fortunately, we have the Bermuda Islander arriving on Thursday and that will help the situation.”

Zach Moniz, a manager with the Lindo’s group of companies, which has stores in Devonshire and Warwick, agreed that the arrival of the Bermuda Islander would help boost stocks. He said that the Oleander delay had a huge impact and it was a “triple whammy” with the holiday weekend and the return to school looming.

Mr Moniz said: “Customers can expect there to be very limited produce and very limited poultry. What they see is what we have.”

He warned that once the Oleander does arrive, “some of the stuff will have to go straight in the dump”.

Mr Moniz also said that some items such as raspberries could be flown in, but customers would have to absorb the extra cost.

He added that would be “a bit much” for items such as bags of salad.

Butterfield & Vallis chief operating officer Spencer Butterfield said the food wholesaler had scrambled over the weekend to get extra produce on to the Bermuda Islander.

He added that they also tried to move some containers loaded on the Oleander to the Bermuda Islander, but that “the timelines were too tight”.

Mr Butterfield said that some of the containers had been sent back to the supplier, who would sell what they could on the east coast of the United States.

He added that some of the items coming in on the Oleander on Sunday could “potentially” be spoilt.

He said: “Anything that has appropriate dates will go on to the market.”

Barry Brewer, president and chief executive officer of Bermuda Container Line, operators of the Oleander, confirmed yesterday that the ship would not make its weekly landing.

He said that fitting spare parts to fix the problem was set to be completed yesterday.

Mr Brewer added: “We anticipate leaving late evening on Thursday, one day earlier than our usual Friday departure, to enable the discharge and delivery of delayed cargo and this week’s scheduled cargo on Sunday morning before the Labour Day holiday in Bermuda.”

Mr Brewer said it was the first time in 1,924 sailings that the Oleander had missed a trip due to mechanical problems.

He added: “We have worked very hard with customers to assist them with contingency planning. We have also apologised for the inconvenience.”

BCL announced earlier this year that the 27-year-old Oleander would be replaced by a new freighter in 2019.

The current 362-container capacity ship is powered by a single 7,340 horsepower marine diesel engine, with three auxiliary diesel engines to generate power for refrigeration, hydraulics, compressors and other shipboard needs.

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Published Aug 30, 2017 at 12:01 am (Updated Aug 30, 2017 at 7:05 am)

Island food supplies ‘critically low’

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