Marketing and Public Relations Manager
PALMETTO, Fla. – Port Manatee has gained federal approval to receive direct imports of select cold-treated South American produce via an expanding pilot program.
Port Manatee may begin participation in the Florida Perishables Trade Coalition pilot program effective Oct. 1, according to approval received Sept. 10 from officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
“We are enthusiastic about the opportunities our participation in this pilot program offers as Port Manatee looks to advance as Florida’s leading on-dock cold storage port,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director.
The approval comes following a July 9 meeting at Port Manatee with federal officials and stakeholders. During the meeting, officials of USDA’s APHIS were joined by counterparts from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in explaining the pilot program’s procedures and benefits.
Perishables brought to Florida ports in this manner can offer U.S. consumers fresher, more economical product than that which follows the traditional routes to Philadelphia and other ports north of the 39th parallel. Thanks to new technologies for shipboard cold treatment, it is no longer necessary for ships to take South American fruit to northern climates to alleviate pest concerns.
The pilot program was initiated in fall 2013 with allowance of imports of cold-treated grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into ports of South Florida’s Miami Dade and Broward counties. The expanded program now also encompasses citrus from Peru, as well as blueberries, apples and pears from Argentina.
Port Manatee is a full-service, multipurpose deepwater seaport with 10 40-foot-draft berths at the entrance to Tampa Bay, serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.