Port Everglades welcomed global ocean carrier Hamburg Süd’s first shipment of imported Peruvian grapes on November 29, 2013, as part of the recently approved pilot program allowing South American fruit to be directly imported into the United States through South Florida ports. 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.
“Hamburg Süd is proud to have been selected to carry the first refrigerated cargo load of fresh Peruvian grapes to Florida. With our state-of-the-art refrigerated cargo containers and our fixed-day of the week liner service between Peru and Port Everglades, we are uniquely positioned to cater to this exciting new business. Port Everglades is the first U.S. port of call for our South American West Coast/United States 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 U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to develop the pilot program.
This program, which began October 1, authorized 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. In order to comply with USDA’s parameters, Hamburg Süd transshipped 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.
“This is one of the best opportunities for new business that Florida ports have seen in years. The economics are compelling and the timing is also right, and this pilot program is one step towards changing the paradigm of North-South perishables shipping to the benefit of Port Everglades and our customers,” said Michael Vanderbeek, Port Everglades Director of Business Development.
To safeguard against fruit flies and other pests, the pilot program requires shippers to meet a number of requirements before the container can be offloaded at the port.
With the pilot now underway, Port Everglades and the FPTC, of which the Port is a member, expects to see many more shipments of grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into South Florida during the next few months and eventually hopes to work with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and USDA to welcome other perishable commodities from many new markets.
One of the many advantages to the new program is the reduction in transit time and cost. A container traveling 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. These savings could eventually be passed on to the consumer.
At the crossroads of North-South and East-West trade, Port Everglades is one of the nation’s leading container ports, handling nearly one million TEUs annually and serving as a gateway to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Located in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Port Everglades is in the heart of one of the world’s largest consumer regions, including a constant flow of visitors and up to 110 million residents plus seasonal visitors within a 500-mile radius. Port Everglades has direct access to the interstate highway system and the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) intermodal hub, and is closer to the Atlantic Shipping Lanes than any other Southeastern U.S. port. Ongoing capital improvements and expansion will ensure that Port Everglades can continue to handle future growth in container traffic. A world-class cargo handling facility, Port Everglades serves as an ideal point of entry and departure for products shipped around the world.