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New trucking vaccine mandate is likely to make fruit and vegetables more expensive

New vaccine mandates for truck drivers are likely to increase the cost of produce.

The cost of transporting fruit from California and Arizona to Canada climbed 25% last week, George Pitsikoulis, the CEO of Canadawide Fruits, told Bloomberg on Monday.

The executive, in Montreal, mentioned a lack of truck drivers who were able to cross the border between the US and Canada because of a vaccine mandate that cut US trucking capacity in half, data from the American Trucking Association indicated. The group estimated that about 50% to 60% of US truck drivers were fully vaccinated. Stephen Laskowski, the president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, told The Wall Street Journal that a survey of Canadian truckers suggested that over 10% of truckers in the country weren't vaccinated.

Canada's vaccine mandate for truckers was imposed on Saturday. The new rules require US truckers to present proof of vaccination in order to cross the border, while Canadian truckers without a vaccine passport are required to quarantine and take a COVID-19 test when they reenter from the US.

The US plans to impose a similar mandate on January 22, and trucking companies have already begun to boost their rates to compete for vaccinated truck drivers.

In December, Fuel Transport, a Canadian logistics company that employs about 90 truckers, began offering a $10,000 incentive to truck drivers who had received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. In January, one of Canada's largest trucking firms, Bison Transport, started offering $2,000 signing bonuses for vaccinated truckers — an extra cost that Rob Penner, the company's CEO, said would ultimately be passed on to consumers.

James Ward, the president of Truckload Carriers Association, previously told Insider that he believed the vaccine mandate would exacerbate the shortage of truck drivers and make it more difficult to bring in new ones, as well as add to longer wait times at the border.

Eighty percent of trade between the US and Canada moves by truck. Canada accounts for one of the US's largest export markets. Trade between the two countries totaled over $600 billion in 2019.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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