On Nov. 27, Nelly Yunta, vice president of sales, marketing and customer care, liner and logistics business groups for Crowley Maritime Corp. in Jacksonville, FL, and vice president of Customized Brokers, the customs brokerage and consulting division located in Miami, said although the primary produce items the company sees coming into the United States at any time of year varies depending on the region or country of origin, it is currently handling a considerable volume of tomatoes and okra.
“And we just started handling cantaloupes and honeydew melons,” she added. “We continue to handle a large volume of asparagus and berries. Root vegetables, mangos, papayas, pineapples, bananas, sno peas and Chinese vegetables, among other items, are also arriving in the U.S.”
Yunta noted that most of Customized Brokers’ customers are expecting larger volumes this season. While weather conditions may have affected some of the products, larger cultivation areas, such as those for berries, will likely compensate for any losses.
“In general, demand seems to continue on an upward trend, so the products keep coming,” she said. “Some regions had appropriate weather conditions and as a result are expecting good production.
“Better logistics opportunities may also favor the U.S. as a destination market,” she continued. “For example, the ability to bring cold-treated cargo to Port Miami or Port Everglades, or the efforts made at Northeast ports to improve the flow of the cargo through the entry process, may entice growers to come back with their products to the U.S. instead of looking at Europe or Asia, should prices merit it.”
She noted that there are numerous points of origin for produce destined for the U.S. this season, but the primary ones continue to be Central American and South American countries.
Regarding any red-flag issues related to imports this year, Yunta said that so far, other than some delays, things were moving smoothly.
“Chayote, for example, is being delayed,” she explained. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has found mites, which is slowing movement down at this time. But in general we are facing the typical challenges we expect to face.
“We would like to point out that after a lot of effort from importers, we are receiving Uruguayan citrus,” she continued. “We welcome the approval of cold treatment cargo into south Florida ports. This will bring fresher products to the region by reducing transportation time, reducing emission by avoiding over the road transportation and reduce costs.”
Yunta said that Crowley and Customized Brokers are also working with Port Miami, U.S. Customs & Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to facilitate transshipments of produce throughout ports and airports.
“We are well-positioned to connect producing countries with their customers,” she said.
Early in 2013, the company opened its new CrowleyFresh cold storage facility in Miami. The facility features four separated humidity- and temperature-controlled coolers. It also provides forced air pre-cooling to ensure rapid and sustained cooled temperatures. In addition, it has refrigerated loading docks, 17 access doors, including those equipped for airline unit loading devices and more. Emergency generators are in place to maintain cool chambers and cargo integrity during natural disasters, storms or other environmental incidents.
Crowley Maritime recently announced its own news about what it calls the “next chapter in Crowley’s storied history of shipping and logistics services between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico.”
In a press release dated Nov. 25, the company stated that it has signed a contract with VT Halter Marine Inc. in Pascagoula, MS, to build two of the world’s first environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas-, or LNG-powered, combination container, roll-on, roll-off ConRo ships. The ships are designed to travel at speeds up to 22 knots and carry containers ranging in size from 20-foot standard to 53-foot-long, 102-inch-wide, high-capacity units, along with hundreds of vehicles in enclosed, weather-tight car decking.
The ships are scheduled for delivery in the second and fourth quarters of 2017, and will replace the company’s towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade continuously and with distinction since the early 1970s.