Wine Company Takes to the Seas in Protest of Port Congestion

To protest the congestion at ports nationwide, the founders of Invivo & Co wines, Tim Lightbourne and Rob Cameron took a small dinghy out to meet cargo ship Seaspan Fraser, currently anchored in the Hauraki Gulf.

Invivo has seven containers of its new rosé prosecco from Italy on a ship in the gulf. The wine was supposed to launch in New Zealand in mid-December. As the company waited for the product to be docked and unloaded it was losing millions in sales, said Lightbourne.

The container ship with Invivo’s wine was scheduled to be unloaded on December 20 or 25, which meant the company would miss out on sales ahead of Christmas.

Cameron noted that the congestion was also taking a toll on international sales, which would hit the company through invoicing, cash flow and reputation when it came to fulfilling orders with big retailers. Invivo has 14 containers of wine waiting to head overseas, which were already delayed by weeks.

“Cargo ships leaving New Zealand are booked out months in advance, and we think this is an issue that could have been avoided,” said Cameron.

Contributing to wider supply chain issues, congestion at the ports has become a significant issue in the post-lockdown period.

“What we wanted to highlight is it's not just us, there are other New Zealand businesses who are missing out,” said Lightbourne.

There were several reasons for the backlog, including a COVID-19 related delay in a major automation project at the Ports of Auckland and a struggle to get the right staff to man the port's eight cranes. Demand for consumer goods has also increased by 20 to 25 percent compared to last year.