Peruvian clementines must move quickly through customs because shelf life is limited.
By the time it reaches the U.S., citrus from La Calera has been in transit for 17 to 21 days, Masias said. The company exports fruit into Los Angeles and Philadelphia through its export entity, Lima-based Prolan.
Customized Brokers informs its clients, who are importers, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is inspecting their products. The company also checks Food and Drug Administration releases that might apply to certain items.
When customs clears the produce, Customized Brokers coordinates with the importers to see that the product is shipped to where the importer wants it, Yunta said.
Customized Brokers’ expediting process is electronic. Importer clients submit necessary documents to the company, which then reviews them and submits them to the customs service.
Clementines must go through a specific cold treatment process before they can enter the U.S.
Temperatures must be maintained for a period that is determined to be cold enough and long enough to kill fruit flies that might be on the fruit. Clementines must be held at 34 degrees for 15 days, Yunta said.
The cold treatment process is a stressor for the fruit, so growers must carefully manage production, especially skin quality, and post-harvest processes to deliver good quality citrus, del Castillo said.
Masias said the Peruvian government is working to rid the country of med fruit flies, and he expects success by about 2014.
“The country is working hard to achieve this goal, and I want to stress the government’s commitment to this very important step,” Masias said.
Clementines from Peru are allowed to enter only northern U.S. ports in order to protect domestic produce grown in the southern U.S.
Yunta said Peruvian clementines are shipped mainly to New York, but Customized Brokers and others are working to change the protocol so that clementines can be brought in through south Florida. However, such a change, if it happens, requires a lengthy process.
The change would benefit importers in the southern U.S. because it would be cheaper to ship into southern Florida instead of discharging produce cargo in New York and distributing it inland.