Previously, fruit was required to be imported through colder, northern ports such as Philadelphia and then trucked to market, due to concerns over fruit flies and other pests that could threaten local crops and vegetation.
“Port Everglades is the first US port of call for our South American West Coast/US service and we are looking forward to serving the South Florida fresh produce import community,” said Juergen Pump, Senior Vice President, Hamburg Süd North America.
The Florida Perishables Trade Coalition (FPTC), a business coalition of international trade, transportation and port leaders, partnered with numerous agencies, including the US Customs and Border Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), to develop the pilot programme.
The programme authorised for the first time ever, a limited number of “cold-treatment” cargoes – grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay – to enter the Florida market directly in containers. To safeguard against fruit flies and other pests and to comply with USDA’s parameters, Hamburg Süd transhipped its first container in Panama to allow it to complete its two-week cold treatment process and be cleared for unloading before arriving at Port Everglades.
Port Everglades expects more shipments of grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into South Florida during the next few months and eventually hopes to welcome other perishable commodities from new markets.
One of the many advantages of the new programme is the reduction in transit time and cost. A container travelling from Peru would reach Port Everglades in only 15 days, as opposed to the 21-day journey to Philadelphia, saving thousands of dollars per container and removing thousands of trucks from the highways.