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Virginia’s In-Transit, Cold Treatment Pilot Participation Clears Way for South American Produce Imports
NORFOLK, VA – Importers of perishables from South America can now move their cargo across The Port of Virginia® as the port is now a participant of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot program.
Virginia is the newest member of a pilot that is designed to import fresh fruit to U.S. East Coast ports from South America. The pilot allows entry of in-transit, cold-treated containers of agricultural products originating in South America, including blueberries, citrus, and grapes from Peru; blueberries and grapes from Uruguay; and, apples, blueberries and pears from Argentina.
“This designation is important for logistics and supply chain managers importing agricultural products because it means shorter total transit times from origin to market,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “This helps to diversify our cargo mix. It opens the door for new cargo and provides an important service for owners and shippers of perishables. This helps to support our strategic growth plan and further establishes The Port of Virginia as a global gateway.”
In the past, these time-sensitive shipments would have come to the East Coast and moved across ports in the Northeast. Prior to the program’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.
There will be many beneficiaries of the change, Reinhart said. Shippers will see lower transportation costs and a longer shelf-life for their products; consumers will see lower prices at the store; and there will be environmental benefits from reduced emissions related transportation.
The USDA Southeast In-transit Cold Treatment Pilot enables a limited number of containerized cargoes to enter the port directly after completing a two-week cold treatment process as a safeguard against fruit flies and other pests, as well as acquiring all the required unloading clearances prior to the shipment’s arrival in port.
Cold treatment is a process whereby perishable fruits have their pulp brought to a certain temperature for a period of time in order to fulfill USDA quarantine requirements for fruits and vegetables entering the U.S. Containers that do not pass cold treatment will be prohibited from entering the port and will not be offloaded from vessels. Instead, failed containers will be allowed transit via sea to a Northeastern port for retreatment, or, they will be re-exported to the country of origin.
The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. In fiscal year 2013, The Port of Virginia provided more than 374,000 jobs and generated $60.3 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth.