The Florida Perishable Trades Coalition plans to enhance a pilot program that allows clearance of cold-treatment perishables such as blueberries and grapes from Peru and Uruguay through south Florida.
The nonprofit coalition was founded by Crowley Maritime Corp., Customized Brokers, Seaboard Marine and Port Miami. It aims to cut transportation costs from the Northeastern ports to southern states and boost shelf life.
The first shipments of Uruguayan citrus — four containers of valencia oranges — to enter the U.S. in almost 20 years arrived at Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in November. Future Uruguayan shipments are eyed for Florida ports like Miami and Everglades.
If the pilot program succeeds, the coalition anticipates the trade lane will open permanently and new products will enter the country regularly, according to a news release.
At the Philadelphia arrival, Miami-based Customized Brokers cleared two of the refrigerated containers through customs for Fort Pierce, Fla.-based DNE World Fruit Sales. The loads were trial shipments in advance of the Uruguay citrus season, which runs May through September.
Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International also imported Uruguayan valencias. Others at the Nov. 18 Philadelphia event included representatives of the Uruguayan Embassy to the U.S.; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Holt Logistics; the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority; and the Uruguayan Growers and Exporters Union.
The cargo got the green light when the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued a rule allowing imports of several varieties of Uruguayan fresh citrus, citrus hybrids and the citrus-related genus Fortunella into the mainland U.S. on condition of meeting sanitation and pest control guidelines. The effective date for the rule was Aug. 9.
The agreement with the U.S. is expected to enable Uruguay to export $20 million worth of citrus annually and affect 15,000 growers in the South American country.
“Taking part in a milestone such as this allows Customized Brokers to foster relationships with vested parties in the Uruguayan citrus program,” John Donohue, trade development specialized for the company, said in a news release.