Bananas are now arriving at the Port of Wilmington (N.C.), which plans to boost imports of other fresh fruit. ( Photo courtesy Port of Wilmington, N.C. )

The Port of Wilmington, N.C., received its first shipment of bananas in early February.

The Guatemalan banana shipment was the first under a new agreement for weekly arrivals for a year, according to a news release. The port is not releasing the names of the importer/exporter or brand of bananas.

“Today’s shipments mean fresh fruits will reach consumers faster and cheaper,” Hans Bean, vice president of trade development for North Carolina ports, said in the release. “This represents major progress in our ability to service North Carolina’s significant grocery sector, several of which are having their headquarters and perishable distribution centers in N.C.”

NC Ports Chief Operating Officer Brian Clark said the banana service is the latest in an expanding business in perishables at the port.

“Joint efforts with our customers, our cold chain partners and government agencies including (the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Department of Agriculture) have helped facilitate these new produce flows via the preferred NC gateway of Wilmington,” Clark said in the release.

In December, the port became the first South Atlantic port to implement both phases of the USDA’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot Program, which allows for direct imports of produce, including blueberries, grapes, apples, pears and citrus, according to the release.

The port is highlighting its refrigerated capacity, which allows for expanded imports of fresh produce.