Chat: Ron Eustice

07/06/2012 10:00:00 AM
Tom Karst

1:11 p.m. Eustice: Both. This is an interesting development. The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service has signed framework equivalency agreements with ten countries and there are probably close to five more that are pending. Some of the countries are required to have USDA inspectors on site when the irradiation occurs. That is expensive and not every (inspector) wants to go to India in the middle of their hot summer. In Hawaii, there is a facility that has been irradiating about 10 million pounds per year for the past 10 to 12 years.

What is happening now is that there are two major facilities in Mexico that are irradiating guavas and mangoes in huge volumes. USDA has signed agreements to have local inspectors on site, and that works pretty well. So that volume has rapidly risen and Mexico is by far the largest supplier of tropical (irradiated) produce to the U.S. The guavas are irradiated and some of the mangoes are irradiated and there will be more in the future because these are good (irradiation) companies and highly efficient and very serious about irradiating tropical produce. There are two facilities that are being built. One is in Hawaii. There is another facility that is scheduled to go up in Gulfport, Mississippi. That will be a custom service provided for offshore countries that are not yet ready not build their own (irradiation) facilities and have smaller volumes but want to enter the U.S. market.

An irradiation facility in Sioux City Iowa has been doing some irradiation for Pakistan mangoes. The mangoes from Pakistan have been flown into Chicago, trucked to Sioux city and irradiated there.

1:15 p.m. Karst: What do people refer to when they talk about the cost of irradiation?

1:16 p.m. Eustice: It all depends. I’m not the one negotiating the contracts. My answer is always that it is pennies a pound. I think it is less than methyl bromide is going to cost.

1:17: p.m. Karst: Are other countries accepting irradiated fruit?

1:18 p.m. Eustice; Australia in 2006 exported 200 metric tons of irradiated mangoes to New Zealand, in 2011, they exported 1,262 metric tons of mangoes to New Zealand.

Mexico and Hawaii together are shipping some 30 million pounds of irradiated produce to the U.S. and then we have some activity out of Vietnam with dragon fruit, and India and Pakistan with mangoes and Thailand is doing litchi and rambutan.



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