WASHINGTON, DC — October 7, 2002 — “America’s food retailers applaud President Bush for taking action to bring a conclusion to the port lockout,” said Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Tim Hammonds. “American consumers increasingly face the prospect of severely limited product availability. It is time to bring an end to this dispute.”

Hammonds’ comments follow a White House announcement this morning that President Bush has formed a Board of Inquiry to make an assessment of the economic damage of the port lockout and determine whether the two sides are negotiating in good faith. FMI sent a letter to the President last Friday, urging immediate action.

“The impact on the broader economy of the impasse is of tremendous concern,” Hammonds said. He added, “a prolonged closure of the ports will negatively affect every industry sector and every business in America in one way or another as shortages take hold just before the holiday shopping season. Our already-fragile economy cannot absorb what will be an increasingly heavy cost.

“The nation’s food retailers are pleased that the White House is taking action to reopen west coast ports.”