Delaware River ports key to perishables

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By George Lauriat, AJOTThe Delaware River ports have a long history of handling perishables, particularly for fresh fruits and related products.For example, the Port of Wilmington, Delaware handles a wide variety of fruits such as New Zealand-grown and kiwifruit and ENZA apples. In addition Wilmington has become when of the largest entry ports on the East Coast for juice and juice concentrates. The Oppenheimer Group, a leading US produce company, is a major importer and North American distributor of the Zespri kiwifruit and ENZA apples. The group has utilized the Port of Wilmington as the port of discharge for the fruit for the past three years. The fruits are palletized and shipped on specialized reefer vessels.
Although fresh fruit imports makes up a bulk of the port’s perishable cargo, in recent years juices and juice concentrates have become a major contributor to the Port of Wilmington’s throughput.
The most notable example is Premier Juices, a Clearwater, Florida-based importer and marketer of juice concentrates. Premier increased their ship calls of specialized reefer vessels to Wilmington to four in FY 2009. Premier’s juice concentrates include Belizean orange and grapefruit juice concentrates, Costa Rican orange and pineapple juice concentrates as well as some organic juices, generally packed in 300 gallon bins.
Besides using specialized reefer ships, Premier Juices also moves juice concentrates onboard Dole Ocean Cargo Express’s weekly-containerized vessel calls from Central America. Premier Juices has been importing juice concentrates through Wilmington since 1996. Part of the attraction of the Port is the proximity to freezer services. The company stores the juice concentrate with their warehousing division, Bulk Services, at a private freezer located just a mile from the Port.
The Port of Philadelphia, managed by the PRPA (Philadelphia Regional Port Authority) also handles a significant amount of fruits and other perishables, notably frozen beef. The port has handled upwards a million tons of perishable cargo in a year, making it one of the nation’s largest ports for temperature sensitive freight. The port region has in excess of 20 million cubic feet of on-the-dock refrigerated warehousing as well as access to rail and road. Tioga Marine Terminal is operated by Delaware River Stevedores, Inc. (DRS) handles a diverse number of fruits, (especial from Chile and South America) and other perishables. Earlier in the spring of this year, Tioga Marine handled a number of vessels containing apple juice concentrate from Argentina. The charter vessels MV Nippon Express, MV Logan and MV Kashima Bay, arrived in the Port of Philadelphia successively in March, April and May. The ships, loaded in Port of San Antonio Oeste in Patagonia, and upon arrival in Philadelphia discharged bins of refrigerated apple juice concentrate and also sizable amounts of pear juice concentrate, along with more traditional palletized fruit cargoes. Part of the reason that Philadelphia attracted the juice concentrate perishables was the access to on-the-dock refrigerated rail cars. CSX utilized its unique Railex system of unit trains, which specializes in the fast delivery of cooled products. The real advantage for the shippers is that the rail service can reduce the number of port calls and this save money. The juice concentrate will be used by a variety of beverage companies, such as Ocean Spray, to produce a wide range of juice products.
Although specialized refrigerated carriers are most of associated with the reefer trades, over the last year since there has been a global movement towards using boxships to move refrigerated more temperature sensitive cargo. Low freight rates and a more comprehensive sailing schedule have enabled boxship operators to compete with traditional reef ships.
This phenomenon has made ports like Philadelphia a little more attractive as ports of call for major ocean carriers. An illustration of this trend was

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American Journal of Transportation