Port Officials and Del Monte Fresh produce have celebrated their 34-year partnership by executing a third modification of their 1995 contract.
“34 years represents a lifetime in the maritime community. A lot has changed but the partnership between the Port and Del Monte has only gotten better with time," said Harbor Board President Jason Hodge, “We are proud that a world class customer like Del Monte choses the Port of Hueneme for their west coast operations.”
Del Monte arrived at the port in 1979, encouraged by a motivated and sustainable labor force. Having no refrigerated facilities in those days, bananas had to be unloaded box- by-box utilizing an elevated conveyor system connecting directly into the side of the ship. At each end of the conveyor, longshoremen handled 40- pound banana boxes from the ship onto a staged pallet alongside the wharf. Full pallets, consisting of 48 boxes would in turn be loaded by teamsters onto waiting trucks.
Shiploads of approximately 100,000 boxes were handled in this manner for almost ten years until the introduction in 1988 of pre-palletized boxes that could be off-loaded directly from the ship using onboard cranes onto the wharf for loading onto waiting trucks.
The next big change in the handling of bananas came in 1995 when the Port constructed for Del Monte a 30,000 square foot refrigerated facility capable of maintaining up to 2,500 pallets of fruit at a perfect 57 degrees F. This allowed Del Monte to simultaneously improve the temperature ‘cold-chain’ so important for quality, handle more boxes of fruit and more efficiently schedule truck arrivals throughout the week reducing road congestion.
In January of 2005 the Port completed a 56,000 square foot expansion of the original refrigerated facility which has allowed Del Monte to better accommodate more fresh produce such as pineapple, honeydew melon and cantaloupe. From a weekly maximum in 1979 of 100,000 boxes of fresh produce for our regional marketplace Del Monte today, routinely handles in excess of 325,000 boxes of these fruits.