Transportation costs dog fresh produce importers

12/16/2011 01:23:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Transportation costs continue to weigh on shippers and importers of Central American and Caribbean fresh fruits and vegetables, but they have been worse.

“There have been increases in almost any kind of freight, but it’s not an increase where it doubles,” said Eddie Caram, general manager of Princeton, Fla.-based New Limeco LLC.

“Our volumes haven’t been affected by it.”

As for whether more product is getting diverted to Europe, Caram says that, yes, the company’s exports of root vegetables and other items to Europe are up.

But so are its shipments to the U.S.

“I’m pretty optimistic about the U.S.,” he said.

“The primary market is still the U.S.”

As of early December, the truck transportation situation looked manageable for Plantation, Fla.-based Fresh Quest Inc., said Lou Kertesz, the company’s vice president of sales.

What it would be like for the remainder of the season, he said, was anyone’s guess.

“So far, trucks have been readily available,” Kertesz said.

“That could change, as we all know.”

Aside from availability, oil prices are still at the forefront of shippers and importers’ minds, he said.

“It’s always a battle with fuel prices going up.”

On the water transportation side, things are much more stable, Kertesz said.

“We run our own vessel into Port Manatee,” he said.

“We know in advance how much is coming and when it’s coming.”

Fresh Quest also contracts with other shipping companies for vessels. 



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