The benefits to APL’s recent upgrades in its shipping service between Miami and Central America can be summed up in one word, said one company executive — timeliness.

APL, which has its U.S. headquarters in Oakland, Calif., recently added a port of call at Santo Tomas, Guatemala to its Central America Express service.

The company also announced it moved the cutoff time to Friday at the Port of Miami for one of its two weekly sailings. That provides shippers an end-of-week cutoff in addition to the traditional Wednesday departure.

“The transit time from Central America to Miami is only three days,” said Mike Zampa, APL’s director of corporate communications. “Having the twice-a-week service allows us to provide midweek and weekend service, both at departure and at arrival.

“This means that our customers can count on APL for their entire shipping program, which is critical for produce quality, especially for tropical fruits where shelf life is minimal. Such a just-in-time program can also cut down on warehouse/trucking costs.”

The arrival dates for fresh produce allow for early-week distribution and marketing from wholesalers from the vessel arriving Saturday as well as access to markets just before the weekend with the Wednesday morning arrival into Miami, Zampa said.

He added that the changes will meet customer demand for improved access to the Central American market. The service connects to vessels on APL’s Trans Pacific and Trans Atlantic trades.