A Billion Pounds of California Almonds Stranded at Ports Amid Drought, Trade Woes

Almond producer David Phippen didn’t need to hear the latest predictions from agriculture economists to know that his industry was on the verge of losing its premier position in the global market.

He saw it coming during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when oceanic carriers discovered they could make twice as many annual round trips — and higher profit margins — by sending empty containers back to Asia to pick up more goods for export instead of waiting in port here to be loaded with his almonds. Almond exports are down by about 13% this year, industry officials said.