By Andy Nelson, The Packer
Haitian mangoes, banned after fruit flies were discovered on a few of them, could be back on retail shelves the week of July 16.
On June 25, inspectors at Florida's Port Everglades found a live fruit fly in a Haitian mango shipment, said Melissa O'Dell, spokeswoman. Two more fruit flies were discovered at Port Everglades July 2, she said.
After the finds, 21 containers of mangoes in port were returned to Haiti, she said.
On July 8, a team of APHIS inspectors went to Haiti to conduct a comprehensive review of mango-packing facilities, O'Dell said. Mangoes are supposed to be treated with hot water to prevent fruit fly infestation.
The ban has not affected shipments of any other fruits or vegetables from Haiti, she said.
Importers said July 10 their shipping partners in Haiti had told them six of nine mango-packing facilities in Haiti could be recertified and up and running in time for product to reach the U.S. by air as early as July 9 and by sea later in the week.
On July 12, O'Dell could not confirm when Haitian mangoes would be allowed back in to the U.S.
The other three mango-packing facilities where the fruit fly-infested mangoes were packed will not be allowed to ship product the rest of the season, the importers said.
One importer, Caribbean Fruit Connection Corp., Miami, typically brings in 150,000 to 200,000 boxes of mangoes from Haiti weekly in July, said Larry Leighton, president.
Another, J&C Tropicals, Miami, estimated it will lose about $300,000 per week because of the ban, said Carlos Capote, president.