South Port Shipping, the logistics operator with a heart for fruit

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South Port Shipping, the logistics operator with a heart for fruit

By South Port Shipping

In Chile, transport innovation is born from the fresh fruit sector. That’s how Francisco Labarca sees it in his role as the Executive Director of South Port Shipping, a leading maritime transport company from Chile to the world.

The key to success has been to work closely with fruit industry entrepreneurs.

Labarca and his team witnessed the innovation driven by the fruit sector with the Cherry Express, a maritime service designed to speed up shipments of Chilean cherries to Asia.

“The Cherry Express was born as an idea from a group of exporters. They had a vision that it was something necessary,” Labarca said. “The following year, there was no service that wasn’t express because it became an industry standard.”

Today, the Chilean industry enjoys a “luxury” service that began with cherries and now extends to all Chilean fruits destined for the demanding Asian markets. The service is an example of the symbiotic relationship between the agricultural industry and shipping companies. By demanding higher standards, the entire fresh fruit business benefits.

A heart for the fruit trade

Within the South Port Shipping team, Labarca describes not only a symbiosis with the fruit sector, but also a personal knowledge.

“What distinguishes our company is that this is a team with a long history in the fruit sector and they landed in the logistics business. Our heart is in the fruit sector,” explained Labarca, who also takes care of his own fruit crops in Chile. “Our hallmark is that the fruit comes first.”

After a successful export season not only of cherries, but also of table grapes and other fruits, Labarca says they are already thinking about the future.

“You don't have to sit on your laurels,” said Labarca, explaining that they are already reviewing the forecasts for next season. This is part of the planning and anticipation process to ensure the  business can manage the volumes to come.

Since the pandemic, disruptions in maritime transport have occurred frequently. Only this last year, the shipping world suffered the effects of climate change on the Panama Canal and the difficulty of navigating the Suez Canal, resulting from armed attacks. Considering Chile’s distance from major markets and the main “shipping roads,” it is very important to secure all available transportation alternatives, both in container ships and refrigerated ships.

The latter have played a key role in the successful grape export season to the United States this year.

It is also important to secure the port terminals in Chile and destination markets. In that sense, we are eager to maintain the fumigation capacity for Chilean grapes in the Gloucester and Wilmington terminals on the United States East Coast.

Global Cherry Summit

The Global Cherry Summit gathers industry leaders in one location.

Global Cherry Summit

This Thursday, April 25, Labarca will be at the Monticello Events Center for Chile's most anticipated cherry event, the Global Cherry Summit, to speak directly with leaders in the fruit sector.

This year's event will have 1,400 participants and more than 80 sponsoring companies.

“It is the only event I know of that is practically impossible to get tickets for,” the executive said.

He attributes this to the economic value that cherries have generated for Chile and worldwide.

“Behind a box of cherries or a box of grapes, there is a lot of added value in plants, in transportation, in technology, in agronomy, and in technical services,” he explained.

Labarca says his team of experts will be ready to advise exporters on their shipping transportation options for fast, dedicated and direct services.

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