Herb Supply Update July 2021

We are happy to announce that after long delays, we have recently received new inventory of many formerly out-of-stock items. If you selected on our website to be notified when your favorites are back in stock, you may have already received a notification by email.

A peek behind the curtain!

Container ship

Although our manufacturers were back in operation very early in the pandemic, herb planting and harvesting suffered setbacks as farmers and others along the supply chain were under shelter-in-place orders in many parts of China. Sourcing herbs while maintaining our quality standards was more challenging than ever. Even now, more than a year into the pandemic, herb prices and availability have still not stabilized.

The temporary (and some permanent) closures of businesses because of cancelled orders and struggles to restart production as demand jumped after worldwide economies reopened has created backlogs in manufacturing and shipping for all sorts of products. This surge has especially affected international shipping routes and container availability (for more in-depth information, see the links below). Shipping times that used to take about 2 months from the factory floor to our shelves here in Oakland have nearly doubled because of the shortage of containers and ships. Our most recent shipment, which we received June 10th, was actually ready to ship at the end of February. We had to bid for a container berth, then wait while it made extra stops in other Asian countries before finally arriving in the Bay Area on May 9th. Due to the scarcity of port workers because of Covid, the ship sat outside the Golden Gate Bridge with almost 20 other ships, eventually getting into the 10-ship queue at the Port of Oakland before being unloaded almost a month later. Of course, we were relieved when the container finally got into our warehouse, but the freight was over $10,000 (a 360% increase pre-covid), on top of the 25.5%-26.6% tariff and fees (the Biden Administration has not rescinded the tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration, and at the moment doesn’t seem inclined to), brokerage fees of $4600 (representing a 300% increase pre-covid) , and an additional $1200 “Container Detention Fee” because our container was not unloaded fast enough from the ship!

Our sources in China tell us that there were many herbs not planted in normal volumes last year because farmers had at the time vast quantities of unsold inventory due to shut-downs. We were told to expect higher prices for herbs such as Mu xiang, Da Huang, and Dang gui this season, due in part to the fact that China has experienced a resurgence of herb use domestically. Shipping delays are expected to continue at least until the end of this year.

We will continue to do periodic updates and offer you and your patients the highest quality herbs and products at reasonable prices. We hope that you are doing well and thank you for your patience as we continue navigating this “new normal” together. Stay safe!


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