South American grapes and blueberries could reach some U.S. markets quicker under a new pilot program bringing fruit to south Florida ports.
Global ocean carrier Hamburg Süd’s delivered the first shipment of imported Peruvian grapes to Port Everglades in Greater Fort Lauderdale under the pilot program on Nov. 29, according to a news release from the port.
“With our state-of-the-art refrigerated cargo containers and our fixed-day of the week liner service between Peru and Port Everglades, we are uniquely positioned to cater to this exciting new business,” Juergen Pump, senior vice president, Hamburg Süd North America, said in the release. “Port Everglades is the first U.S. port of call for our South American West Coast/United States service and we are looking forward to serving the South Florida fresh produce import community,”
Before the pilot program was established, imported South American fruit had to be imported through northern ports such as Philadelphia and then trucked to Southern U.S. market because of concerns over hitchhiker pests, according to the release.
The Florida Perishables Trade Coalition — a business coalition of trade-related businesses — joined with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others to develop the pilot program, according to the release.
The pilot program, which started Oct. 1, approved a limited number of “cold-treatment” shipments — grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay — to enter the Florida market directly in containers, according to the release. To meet the terms of USDA for the pilot, Hamburg Süd transshipped its first container in Panama to allow it to complete its two-week cold treatment process, according to the release.
“This is one of the best opportunities for new business that Florida ports have seen in years,” Michael Vanderbeek, Port Everglades Director of Business Development, said in the release. “This pilot program is one step towards changing the paradigm of North-South perishables shipping to the benefit of Port Everglades and our customers,”
Numerous shipments of grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay are expected in the next few months, according to the release.
One of the big advantages of the south Florida port is transit time, according to the release. A container traveling from Peru would reach Port Everglades in only 15 days, compared with the 21-day journey to Philadelphia, according to the release.