Charleston Port Joins USDA Cold Treatment Program
Crowley Maritime Corp.’s Miami-based subsidiary specializing in Customs clearance of imported perishable apparel and refrigerated products, said it could begin clearing certain produce requiring cold-treatment from Peru, Uruguay and Argentina into the Port of Charleston, S.C. as early as this Spring. This development would indicate an expansion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) cold treatment pilot program that has previously been rolled out in South Florida and in Savannah, Ga.
Cold treatment is a process whereby perishable fruits have their pulp brought to a certain temperature for a period of time as dictated by phytosanitary authorities in order to fulfill APHIS quarantine requirements for fruits and vegetables entering the U.S. The process eliminates harsh chemical fumigation but ensures that foreign insect and their larvae are eradicated from the cargo in order to protect the U.S. agricultural industry.
For compliance, fruits and vegetables must be shipped in new or completely clean containers equipped with temperature sensors to monitor the near-freezing temperatures required for the cold treatment process. The treatment begins with pre-cooling dockside at the point of export or once the produce is aboard the vessel, then refrigerating the cargo at acceptable temperatures for the duration of transit and, finally, keeping it at near-freezing temperatures for around two weeks upon arrival portside in the U.S.
Once formally implemented, Customized Brokers will be authorized to clear citrus, blueberries and grapes from Peru; blueberries and grapes from Uruguay; and blueberries, apples and pears from Argentina. As with previous implementations, 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.
“We’ve worked diligently with the Florida Perishable Trade Coalition to make the cold-treatment program a reality,” said Nelly Yunta, vice president, Customized Brokers. “Each time the program expands to include another port of entry or an additional commodity, it’s a huge win for consumers looking to have fresh produce on their tables throughout the year.”
The Florida Perishable Trades Coalition is a non-profit association cofounded by Crowley, Customized Brokers, Seaboard Marine and Port Miami, that was developed to increase trade in perishable products through Florida’s air and seaports as an alternative to congested Northeast ports. Prior to the program’s start in 2013, these perishables were required to enter Northeastern ports for cold treatment and clearance, but then had to be transported to southern states, for distribution into stores. Those who benefit from allowing these perishables to enter southern ports include shippers, who will see lower transportation costs and a longer shelf life for their products; southern-based consumers, who will see lower grocery store prices on these items; and the southern economies, which will see a boost of business. Additionally, environmental benefits from reduced emissions related to the transportation of these perishables will be seen.
Crowley and its subsidiary, Customized Brokers, can prepare and submit any and all customs documentation for imports of any kind coming into the U.S. The company’s strong knowledge of compliance and excellent relationships with regulatory trade authorities combine to allow for expedited client service at seaports, airports and border crossings. Together, the companies handle textiles/807 cargoes; drawback services; duty preference programs; foreign trade zones; in-bonds; Quota/Visa requirements; U.S. goods returned; warehouse reconciliation, and mail/informal entries, along with fresh fruit and produce clearance – including fumigation and transportation coordination.