“The problem with product by boat into the U.S. is the shelf life is obviously reduced because of the fumigation, so we have avoided it,” she said. “We have done two trial containers with very mixed success … It is a very dangerous situation because it has not been fumigated.”
Shipping from Chile
Some suppliers have tried to shave days of shipping time by trucking Argentine blueberries to Chile first, then shipping them out of the Port of Valparaiso.
“This concept through Valparaiso in Chile and then from there to L.A. or Miami I believe is the right way to do it,” said Marcelo Estrada, a freelance produce marketer based in Miami, Fla., highlighting a reduction in transit time of three to four days and a logistical advantage. “That is a trend that is being taken by more growers every year.”
Estrada said the alternative proved successful in its first full-scale year last year.
“This year will be the second significant year considering volume,” Estrada said. “The fruit has to be fumigated and for fumigated fruit, three to five days arrival time is the difference between a good and a bad arrival. Even paying a little bit more is worth it.”
Bowe said transit time from Chile to the West Coast of the United States in 12 to 14 days makes the transit through Chile worth the effort.
“We did that and several others did,” he said. “You fumigate and chill the berries to almost zero degrees and put them on a very good ocean container.”
Bowe said the steamship companies working out of Chile are very good at assuring that everything in the container is the way it is supposed to be. Upon arrival in the U.S., he said the container is cleared and taken to its facility within five hours.
Honigberg said the Chilean option is not viable for her company, “It still takes several days to get it from Argentina to Chile and through customs between the two countries and to the port in Chile.”
“It’s not a cost benefit,” said Turner, who admitted that timing is improved but the option is more expensive. “It’s a little bit more expensive but the challenge in ocean freight on the Atlantic side is the timing.”
Turner said a truck to Chile would take one to two days, followed by a 12-day voyage to the U.S.
“You can shave five, maybe six days off voyage time,” he said. “It’s a quicker voyage because that’s where the shipping infrastructure is.”