The Port of Miami is scheduled to receive its first container of grapes from Peru on Sunday, according to the port authority. A cold treatment pilot program commenced in October, making possible the direct import of grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay.
Until now, imports of fruits from tropical climates had to enter the United States in ports north of Baltimore, where the winters are cold enough to kill any fruit flies that might avoid extermination and escape into the environment.
Importers and growers worked with the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Customs and Border Protection on a pest-prevention program that gives regulators confidence to allow certain types of fruit into South Florida. The key requirements are that fruit shipments be cold treated without interruption for 15 days and transported in a refrigerated container.
Local importers are expected to save thousands of dollars in transportation costs and give Florida consumers fresher produce, if the program takes off; currently, fruit from Peru must be trucked back from Philadelphia and other ports to Florida for distribution.
(More details about opening a perishables trade route between Peru and Miami can be found in "Fruit fight
," in the September issue of American Shipper
The shipment is arriving at PortMiami on an APL vessel and will be shortly followed by a second shipment of three containers, PortMiami spokeswoman Andria Muniz-Amador said.
Last month, Deputy Port Director Juan Kuryla traveled to Peru with shippers and other service providers to promote the new pilot program, the port authority said.
Port officials are envisioning the potential to relay grapes beyond Florida to other markets in the eastern half of the United States.