Delays on the East Coast are causing some Peruvian avocado shippers grief.
“Our first containers came though the port of Philadelphia, and we had extensive holds, which delayed the product almost four days,” said Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla.
Crawford, whose company is shipping avocados from Peru to the U.S. for the first time this year, said he thinks the delays are due to more aggressive product inspections.
“It’s just protocol. They are trying to inspect more of the product that is coming in than they have in the past,” Crawford said.
The extra inspections, which translate to lost time, aren’t relegated to avocados.
“It’s almost anything that’s being brought in, and we’re familiar with that. It just seems like this year we’re getting inspected more,” Crawford said.
The delays seem to be longest in the Northeast.
“It seems to have started in New York, but we’re seeing it in other locations as well,” said Jose Antonio Gomez, chief commercial officer of Camposol, Lima, Peru.
“I think the department of agriculture wants to implement these procedures in different places because it’s a way to save money, although it costs extra for the shippers,” he said.
“We import the majority of our production into Miami and we haven’t had the issues there. The Northeast ports are more challenging, so you can expect delays,” he said.
In addition, the delays cost companies money.
The cost comes from moving product to various locations, plus the extra time of storing it.
“It creates an incremental cost of moving product from the port to the inspection site, and then back to the port. Before, inspections were just done at the port,” Gomez said.
Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., said he thinks the importing process should go more smoothly as it gets later in the season.
“It’s been relatively smooth so far, but there are always a few glitches as you are starting out,” he said.