Latin America moves closer
Ports that participate in a special pilot programme designed by the USA’s ministry of agriculture can shorten the time required for the inspection and handling of fresh produce from Latin America. The port of New Orleans is also part of the scheme.
Customs stations frequently represent those very critical points in the supply chain where delays can be predicted in advance, as the need to maintain security encounters commercial desires to get the goods to their destinations as quickly and unbureaucratically as possible. This applies all the more to time-sensitive shipments such as perishables, on account of the inspections required. The port of New Orleans has now revealed a new trump up its sleeve to overcome such hurdles.
Part of a pilot project
The port was recently included in a pilot programme for fresh produce run by the US department of agriculture, called the ‘Southeast U.S. In-Transit Cold Treatment Program’. Participation in the scheme run by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (Aphis) means selected time-sensitive products can be treated to meet customs compliance in transit, rather than after they arrive in the USA.
Refrigerated cargo originating from Latin America previously had to pass through specialised treatment facilities located in northeastern USA, where they first had to fulfil Aphis quarantine requirements targeting pests such as fruit flies before they could be cleared for distribution. Now these procedures can be carried out on direct routes to New Orleans; the port provides more than 900 refrigerated plugs at its facilities. This results in shorter transit times and increased efficiency for shippers.
Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO of the port of New Orleans, was keen to point out that “the programme gives current and future shippers using our gateway additional options for the transportation of their refrigerated cargo, whilst simultaneously reducing transit time from the point of origin to the consumer.”
The programme focuses on citrus fruit from Peru, grapes from Uruguay and Peru, apples and pears from Argentina, as well as blueberries from all three of these countries. Dr Laura Jeffers, national operations manager with Aphis, is pleased with the progress so far. The southeast of the USA also has the ports of Canaveral, Miami, Manatee, Everglades, Savannah and Charleston in the scheme.