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Labrador produce shipment ruined after freezing in trailer

The Kamutik W, which services the Labrador coast. - Courtesy of Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Kamutik W, which services the Labrador coast. - Courtesy of Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - Contributed

Store owner losing money and questions if produce worth supplying


It’s been a difficult summer for store owners trying to have fresh produce shipped in by plane to the north coast of Labrador.

Fruits, vegetables and milk are flown from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to coastal communities once a week, but weather delays and other issues have caused problems.

In late August, an entire shipment of produce was ruined when it arrived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay from Montreal completely frozen. According to Carl Cull of Hamilton Wholesalers, the reefer trailer’s temperature was at the wrong setting.

“The reefer trailer was on freeze, not chill,” explained Cull. “Everything was frozen.”

Cull said the produce would be ruined after thawing so the entire shipment was wasted.

This affected nearly every grocery store along the north coast.

“It’s a terrible thing that happened, but it happened," he said. "An honest accident.”

Going a full week without fruits and vegetables caused a headache for store owners.

Rachel Edmunds, owner of A&K Variety in Makkovik, said she had to deal with some irritated customers.

“The people were wondering why I didn’t have any (produce),” said Voisey. “They probably thought I didn’t order any.”

This isn’t the first time flying produce into the north coast communities has been an issue this summer.

Bad weather has caused delays, and the belated produce arrives already spoiled.

According to Edmunds, she recently had to throw away $700 worth of fruits and vegetables because of a weather delay.

“I told Air Borealis they should take it to the compost rather than sending it up here for me to take to the dump,” said Voisey.

The Labrador Voice asked Air Borealis for comment, but there was no response by deadline.

Edmunds said she is not reimbursed for spoiled produce, and wonders if it’s even worth supplying it in her store.

“I’m the one who is losing out because it comes out of my pocket. They don’t reimburse me.

“I’m on the verge on not ordering anymore produce because I can’t keep losing dollars like that," she said. "It’s just going to put me under if I keep losing that amount of money."

Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans said she is aware north coast shipping issues and is concerned for the fall season when there could be worse weather ahead.

“When you have weather delays that carry into three or four days, the produce does spoil,” said Evans.

“We’re battling a lot of issues in terms of food security right now on the north coast. Going into the fall, I do have major concerns.”

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