The Perishable Specialist Inc., a customs’ brokerage firm in Miami is solely dedicated to the produce industry, and so its business is streamlined to handle perishables exclusively.
Owned by husband and wife team, Frank and Ana Ramos, The Perishable Specialist deals repeatedly with the government agencies and departments, vendors and the steamship lines.
In late January, Ms. Ramos said that imports were moving strongly.
“From Chile we are seeing lots and lots of blueberries entering the U.S. by both air and ocean, which makes us very happy,” she said. “Blueberries from Chile are at their peak, and we just wrapped up a great season of Chilean cherries in December.”
“Peaches, plums and nectarines from Chile are arriving into Miami and Port Everglades, Florida, Gloucester, New Jersey and Wilmington, Delaware, to name a few,” she continued. “We are also seeing some nice volumes of organic blueberries arriving.”
Ms. Ramos added that the numbers are higher on imports this year, and that the company was enjoying the additional business. She pointed out, however, that the numbers are based on its customers’ growth, and are not indicative of industry growth. Its customers are both importers and exporters.
Chile, Ms. Ramos noted, can boast as having one of the best agriculture pre-clearance programs in the world.
The Perishable Specialist rarely deals with diseases or insects issues on product from Chile because the majority of the products are inspected at the point of origin and problems are resolved prior to departure rather than at the destination.
“This is a win-win situation for all those involved,” said Ms. Ramos. “It’s a win for the exporter because the product will go through an easy clearance in terms of agriculture seal or wrapping check. It’s a win for the importer because it is unlikely that agriculture will intercept a disease or insect. It’s a win for the carriers because cargo will go through a seamless process. And it’s a win for the U.S., because we pre-clear with U.S. Customs and the FDA [U. S Food and Drug Administration] prior to arrival at the destination, who know that once the product has arrived, it has been pre-inspected so agriculture issues are unlikely.”
She said that it’s normal to encounter broken wrappings a couple of times in a season on product that is shipped by air. When this occurs, inspectors make the determination if the breach originated in the country of origin or at the destination. The outcome of how that fruit is handled is decided upon this research.
In a reminder, Ms. Ramos added, “By the time that this article is in print, the FDA renewal grace period will have expired as all domestic and foreign renewals are due by Jan. 31, 2013. We hope that by then everyone had completed this process.”
The Perishable Specialist holds a National Broker’s permit and is able to clear air and ocean arrivals at any United States port.