Chilean Ambassador Felipe Bulnes, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Chile’s Exporters Association President Ronald Bown, Pacific Seaways Executive Director Francisco Labarca and Port officials welcomed this year’s first shipment of Chilean winter fruit to the U.S. onboard Pacific Seaways’ chartered refrigerated breakbulk vessel m/v Polarstream on Monday, Dec. 17.
Wilmington is the nation’s leading marine terminal for imports of perishable cargoes and a major port of entry and distribution center for Chilean fruit. This is the third consecutive Chilean fruit season that Delaware’s seaport has enjoyed the prestige and honor of receiving the season’s first ship call to the United States.
Chile’s harvest period in the Southern Hemisphere between late November and April complements the North American consumer demand for high quality imports of fruit. M/v Polarstream will discharge nearly 6,600 pallets of table grapes, blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums at the Port of Wilmington.
“We are gathered here today to commemorate the strong fruit trade partnership that exists between Chile and the state of Delaware, reflected by the arrival of the first vessel of the 2012-13 season carrying Chilean fruit at the Port of Wilmington, one of the main gateways in the East Coast for shipments of Chilean fresh fruit. Over the past decades, this industry has been one of the most dynamic and innovative sectors of the Chilean economy and the US is the main destination market for our agricultural products. We look forward to further strengthening the relationship between Chile and the State of Delaware,” said Ambassador Felipe Bulnes.
“Delaware’s seaport is the doorway through which Chilean fruit enters into North American homes this holiday season,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Our robust bilateral trade and long and strong friendship with Chile create many good jobs and stimulates the economies on both sides of the equator and we are working to continue growing it into the future,” he added.
The Port of Wilmington handled 15.9 million cases of Chilean fruit at estimated retail value of $600 million during the 2011-12 season. The cargo was stored in the Port’s 800,000 sf on-dock cold-store, North America’s largest, before distribution as far north as Canada’s maritime provinces and as far west as the Mississippi River. Chilean fruit trade via Delaware’s seaport annually supports 750 quality, family sustaining jobs, and generates $40 million in personal income, $42 million in business revenue and $4 million in tax revenue for the State and the region.