On the heels of increased consumer restaurant spending in May, as reported by the National Restaurant Association in mid-June, the first major revision to national. maritime regulations in more than two decades, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act became law in an effort to address the country’s supply chain issues.
The National Restaurant Association added its voice to those applauding the final passage of the OSRA, which was passed unanimously by the Senate on March 31, the House on June 13 and signed into law on June 16.
About the new law, Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy said, “Whether it’s food, packaging, or equipment restaurants depend on, supply chain disruptions are so bad, American importers and exporters are paying the highest shipping rates ever recorded for the worst service levels ever experienced. There’s no silver bullet that will solve the nation’s supply chain challenges, but we’re hopeful this legislation will provide some relief by updating federal regulations for the global shipping industry. After months of advocating with our supply chain partners for these changes, we hope modernization of the Ocean Shipping Act will help reduce shipping costs and improve supply chain challenges.”
He added, “We appreciate the support and effort of Sens. Amy Klobuchar and John Thune, who brought the Senate and House intentions together for this final bill, which we hope will create positive long-term impacts for the restaurant industry and our supply chain partners.”
Specifically, the legislation will require ocean carriers to certify that late fees – “detention and demurrage” charges – comply with federal regulations or face penalties; shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention and demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier; prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining shipping opportunities for U.S. exports, as determined by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in new required rulemaking; require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and 20-ft. equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the U.S.; authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carriers’ business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges.
The law was signed the day after the National Restaurant Association posted a story at https://restaurant.org/research-and-media/research/economists-notebook/analysis-commentary/consumer-spending-in-restaurants-continued-to-rise-in-may/ noting the upward trend of restaurant sales in May, saying that “sales suggests that the healthy job market continues to win out against inflationary concerns.”
Though facing increases in prices of food, consumers were still eating out, with preliminary May figures from the U.S. Census Bureau showing total sales of $85 for eating and drinking places as seasonally adjusted.
The total was 0.7% from April’s sales volume of $84.4 billion was the fourth consecutive monthly increase in consumer spending at restaurants and bars.
“The recent upward trend in restaurant sales suggests that the healthy job market continues to win out against inflationary concerns – at least when it comes to consumers’ foodservice decisions,” the piece noted. “It remains to be seen if this lasts, as the first half of June brought $5 gas prices, soaring interest rates and a stock market that dipped into bear territory.”