Port of Virginia readies for more refrigerated fruit imports
AFTER successfully completing the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot programme, importers of perishables from South American countries can now move their cargo across The Port of Virginia
AFTER successfully completing the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot programme, importers of perishables from South American countries can now move their cargo across The Port of Virginia.
CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, John F Reinhart said: 'We're the US East Coast's leading vegetable exporter, and this designation positions us to achieve the same success with imported fruit. This is important for logistics and supply chain managers importing agricultural products because it means this cargo will get to its market more quickly.'
The approval coincides with the port's effort to expand its capacity to handle refrigerated (reefer) cargo. The port is investing a combined US$700 million to expand capacity at its two primary container terminals, Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT). The investment includes more room for refrigerated cargo at each terminal.
'We're expanding the stack-yard at VIG and reconfiguring the yard at NIT, and both of these projects include new reefer racks for each stack,' Mr Reinhart said. 'When construction is finished, we'll have nearly 900 reefer spaces at each terminal, which is a 66 per cent increase in total reefer capacity. We have the necessary federal approval and capacity to help develop Virginia into an export and import centre for refrigerated cargo.'
The port also has the capability to handle refrigerated cargo on the Richmond Express barge, which links the port's terminals in the Norfolk Harbour to Richmond Marine Terminal (RMT) with thrice-weekly service. In 2017, the port invested in a 40-plug power unit for the barge.
In October 2017, the port began participating in the USDA's pilot programme that allowed imports of certain refrigerated fresh fruits from South America. Under the programme, Virginia could import cold-treated containers of blueberries, citrus, and grapes from Peru; blueberries and grapes from Uruguay; and apples, blueberries, and pears from Argentina. The approval is effective immediately, reports AJOT.
In the past, these time-sensitive shipments would have come to the East Coast and moved across ports in the Northeast. Prior to the programme'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.