DELAWARE RIVER PORTS & TRADE - PDI brings Chilean produce from ship to table via . . .

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PDI brings Chilean produce from ship to table via Delaware’s Port of Wilmington
By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTPacific Delaware, Inc. (PDI) has enjoyed a long-term relationship with the Port of Wilmington and exemplifies why the port is successful in the Chilean fruit business.
First customers at the port in 1992, Pacific Delaware’s volumes have grown steadily and dramatically over the years from approximately 40,000 pallets of imported fruit in 1992 to approximately 193,000 pallets last year.
In 2005, PDI signed a five-year agreement with the Diamond State Port Corp (DSPC) with a two-year extension option for the storage and distribution of Chilean fruit imports through the Port of Wilmington. PDI is a US corporation whose main customer, Swordfish Shipping, Inc., is represented in Chile by Pacific Seaways, a Chilean corporation that provides shipping services for Chilean fruit exporters. The Port of Wilmington is the largest gateway for Chilean fruit imports on the Delaware.
Pacific Seaways is a group of exporters who charter approximately eight to nine vessels per year.
“They are involved in coordinating those vessels, their schedules, loading, and discharging,” Murphy says.
Seasonable BusinessEach year in early December, grapes, plums, nectarines, peaches, and cherries begin arriving in Wilmington in the specially constructed refrigerated ships chartered by Pacific Seaways.
While the shipments arrive on pallets the ships utilized also have capacity for containers on deck, which is used as well.
“A normal shipment would be 90 forty-foot containers on deck, which is 1,800 pallets,” he explains. “Below deck is approximately 5,000 pallets. These are big shipments.”
The program peaks in March and April and often extends through the early summer months when the apples and pears finish out the season.
Chilean imports of grapes are constrained by a marketing order by the United States to protect domestic grape producers. After April 19, the regulations governing the quality of grapes become very restrictive.
“The season winds down because of those restrictions,” he says.
Besides the grapes, the company imports stone fruit and apples. “That helps out, but once certain groups of grape varieties are restricted, full ships loads begin to diminish,” he says. At that point, fruit such as pears, peaches, plums, and blueberries begin to arrive by container.
“The variety continues to increase,” he says.
The volumes of apples continue to increase as do the kiwis and clementines. “These are projected to increase further, which is good because it is late season fruit,” he says.
Murphy sees the potential for a clementine program down the road since Chile is beginning to increase its harvest of this late season citrus product.
“Regulations restricting their importation here in the United States are being relaxed,” he adds.
”We have a very good working relationship with the Port of Wilmington with the operational people, the labor groups, and the stevedoring company,” states Mark Murphy, PDI vice president. “The labor is very efficient, productive and customer-oriented.“
Murphy Marine Services supports their operations. PDI acts as the facilitator as not only the exporter of the fruit from Chile but also the receiving agent in the United States.
“We interface on a daily basis to control that program and the distribution of the program,” Murphy explains.
PDI is backed by Transport Marine Surveyors that makes certain the product is handled properly.
“We are also supported by one of the best steamship agents on this river, that company being Terminal Shipping headed by Rob Herb,” he adds. “It all adds to a very good supply chain here right up to when the product is loaded onto the customers’ truck.”
Royal Fumigation plays a critical role in the shipments by ensuring PDI delicious fruit meets all USDA requirements before reaching the market.
“They have done an excellent job over the years to progress this industry to come up

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American Journal of Transportation