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Flights to ease produce, dairy shortages at Pacific commissaries

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shannon McCann, assigned to the 15th Mission Support Squadron, shops in the commissary at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, April 23, 2009.

ED FOSTER/USAF FILE PHOTO

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 14, 2015

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — An emergency fly-in of fresh dairy products, produce and meats will be welcome news at U.S. bases in the Pacific.

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) is airlifting the chilled products to alleviate ongoing shortages at stores in Korea, mainland Japan and Okinawa, according to a DeCA news release.

The stores have been experiencing shortages due to a labor dispute on West Coast docks that has delayed orders from the U.S. by 10 to 15 days, according to DeCA officials.

The yogurt refrigerators at the Yokota Commissary were almost completely bare earlier this week. The fresh produce section was also sparse before a load of supplies arrived last week. Customers quickly snatched up new bags of salads and other items, leaving the shelves empty again.

Commercial contracted airlift will transport the chilled items for delivery to commissaries by Friday and Saturday. Other chilled items will continue to be transported by ship, DeCA’s statement said.

“For the time being, contingency airlifts of critical short shelf life items to Korea, mainland Japan and Okinawa is one part of the solution we’re working to improve the timely delivery of products to all our stores in the Pacific,” Agency Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu said in a statement.

“We’re also ramping up reorders and looking at more local source options. And we also want our patrons to know that there will be no change in price for the airlifted products,” he said.

With shipments scheduled to arrive weekly, DeCA officials are asking customers to check store signs for updates. In addition, DeCA is advising customers to contact local store management about a product’s availability if it’s not on the shelf.

robson.seth@stripes.com

Twitter: @SethRobson1

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