Miami-based DHL Global Forwarding, an air and ocean freight specialist within Bonn, Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL, set a record number of charters in 2013 transporting perishables from South America, including shipments of blueberries from Argentina to the U.S.

The record shipments came despite freezing temperatures, rain, hail “and a gloomy forecast for the 2013 blueberry and cherry season” in both Argentina and Chile, said Roland Zach, vice president of StarBroker Americas and head of global charters for DHL Global Forwarding.

Working through StarBroker, DHL Global Forwarding’s in-house air freight carrier and charter broker, DHL transported nearly 20 charter flights of blueberries from Tucuman Airport in northern Argentina to Miami for distribution in the U.S., Zach said.

“Our market share in Tucuman is 35%,” he said.

Zach anticipates a good season for 2014, with about 1,700 tons, Zach said.

DHL first started shipping from Argentina during 2006 from Ezeiza International Airport near Buenos Aires. In 2011, DHL Global Forwarding, through StarBroker, started flying directly from Tucuman to the U.S.

Shipping blueberries by air is advantageous because it takes only three or four days to move fruit from harvest to supermarket shelves, Zach said.

Transporting blueberries from Argentina can be challenging because the blueberry season is relatively short, and markets can be affected by weather and price at the destination market, he said.

But he said DHL goes to great lengths to ensure good arrivals.

“We ensure the fruit stays in the cold room for no more than eight hours. We make sure each skid is in the proper place in the cold room, and we check that the cargo flies according to the booking and schedule that we inform the customer of,” he said.

DHL also confirms when the consignee’s cargo arrives at the destination airport, Zach said, enabling customers to pick up cargo upon arrival.

DHL Global Forwarding ships fruits and vegetables year-round in a temperature-controlled environment from medium and large exporters in Brazil, Mexico and Central America, he said.