Importers of perishables from South America can now move their cargo across the Port of Virginia as the entity is has joined the the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot program.
Virginia is the newest member of a pilot that is designed to import fresh fruit to U.S. East Coast ports from South America.
The pilot allows entry of in-transit, cold-treated containers of agricultural products originating in South America – including blueberries, citrus, and grapes from Peru; blueberries and grapes from Uruguay; and, apples, blueberries and pears from Argentina.
Other U.S. ports included in the program are Port Canaveral, PortMiami, Port Manatee and Port Everglades in Florida, the Port of Savannah in Georgia, the Port of Charleston in South Carolina and the Port of New Orleans in Louisiana.
“This designation is important for logistics and supply chain managers importing agricultural products because it means shorter total transit times from origin to market,” Virginia Port Authority CEO and executive director John F. Reinhart said.
“This helps to diversify our cargo mix. It opens the door for new cargo and provides an important service for owners and shippers of perishables.
“This helps to support our strategic growth plan and further establishes The Port of Virginia as a global gateway.”
In the past, these time-sensitive shipments would have come to the East Coast and moved across ports in the Northeast.
Prior to the program’s start in 2013, the perishables were required to enter Northeastern ports for cold treatment and clearance and were then transported to southern states for distribution into stores.
There will be many beneficiaries of the change, Reinhart said. Shippers will see lower transportation costs and a longer shelf-life for their products, consumers will see lower prices at the store, and there will be environmental benefits from reduced emissions related transportation.
The USDA Southeast In-transit Cold Treatment Pilot enables a limited number of containerized cargoes to enter the port directly after completing a two-week cold treatment process as a safeguard against fruit flies and other pests, as well as acquiring all the required unloading clearances prior to the shipment’s arrival in port.
Containers that do not pass cold treatment will be prohibited from entering the port and will not be offloaded from vessels. Instead, failed containers will be allowed transit via sea to a Northeastern port for retreatment, or, they will be re-exported to the country of origin.