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Chip Wiechec shook his head in exasperation as he sat at his desk at the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market. The owner of Hunter Bros. Inc. observed that he was paying a California Romaine shipper $6 per box, f.o.b. The trucker was charging $8.25 per box to deliver the Romaine to the Hunter Bros. dock.

"It costs me $14.25 delivered. God forbid, then, that it's out of grade. It sounds expensive at $16-$17, but the margins are nothing and the grower’s not making money," Mr. Wiechec noted, as he cited other similar examples in mid-June.

Mark Scintella, a buyer and salesman for Nardella Inc. on the Philadelphia market, said he was paying $6,500 to $7,000 for trucks out of Nogales, AZ, and $7,000 to $8,000 for trucks from California. On June 18 he noted, “Last week was even higher.”