• ITVI.USA
    15,845.180
    -15.980
    -0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.806
    0.013
    0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.590
    0.130
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,846.760
    -20.840
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,845.180
    -15.980
    -0.1%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.806
    0.013
    0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.590
    0.130
    0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,846.760
    -20.840
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingWarehouse

Chilean fruit exports to U.S. rebound

Port of Los Angeles commissioner sees a need for more forklift drivers to work fruit ships.

   Shipments of grapes and other fruit from Chile to the U.S. have rebounded this year, after frost and strikes by port workers hurt the trade in 2013-2014.
   Thomas Keefer, the deputy executive director at the Port of Wilimington, Delaware, said his port is seeing a stronger season, with imports running about 23 percent ahead of last year.
   Ports along the Delaware River, including Wilmington, Philadelphia, and the privately-owned Holt Terminal in Gloucester City, as well as Los Angeles and Miami are the major gateways for fruit moving from Chile to the U.S.
   According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service, of the $1.5 billion in fruit that was imported into the U.S. in 2014, $964 million came through the U.S. Customs district in Philadelphia, $370 million through the Los Angeles district, and $135 million through Miami. Next on the list of top import cities were New York, Seattle, and Houston.
   In January of this year, fruit imports were up about 30 percent from January 2014.
   “The music has not stopped playing yet for the 2015 season, but one could characterize this year as having returned to the pre-Lehman shock year-robust volumes,” said Leo Holt, president of Holt Logistics Corp., whose affiliates operate both the Packer Avenue Terminal in Philadelphia and the Gloucester City terminal.
   Holt noted that imports from Chile peak around this time of year as importers of Chilean grapes seek to bring them in prior to an April 10 marketing order date. After April 10, other fruit continues to arrive, including apples and pears, and later in the season citrus, most of which is containerized.
   Holt Logistics has been investing in its terminal in Gloucester City, adding new racking systems as well as scanning technology and iPads used by workers.
   According to the USDA, grapes accounted for about 48 percent of the fruit imported into the U.S. from Chile in 2014, cranberries about 17 percent, and apples 9 percent. Smaller amounts of clementines, avocados, oranges, peaches, nectarines, cherries, kiwifruits, plums, pears and other fruits are also imported from the South American country.
   Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles told port commissioners during their board meeting last week that volumes are up 20 percent at the port’s fruit dock, which is used to primarily handle Chilean fruit bound to consumers in the Western U.S. and Canada. Outer Harbor Berth 54/55, is operated by SSA and has seen 21 ships this year so far compared to 14 last year.
   He said longshoremen worked 65,000 hours this year, 23,000 more than in the same period in 2013.
   Both Keefer and Seroka cited the strong dollar as a factor that has boosted cargo.
   “Despite the congestion problems that we have seen and faced over the past several months, our fruit dock has been operating very successfully in terms of bringing cargo in in a timely fashion and hiring the necessary labor,” Seroka said.
   David Arian, a Port of Los Angeles commissioner and former president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said of the fruit dock, “It’s critical that we keep that operation in place.”
   “One of the problems that we are running into is longshore labor because they haven’t brought new people into the industry in nearly 10 years and the people who run forklifts are usually the new people coming into the industry,” said Arian. “Casuals cannot drive forklifts because they are not trained.”
   “Without additional registration, the people who will be hit the hardest will be the fruit docks and the steel docks,” he added. “I think we have to make this clear to the PMA (Pacific Maritime Association, the group that represents employers in contract negotiations contracts with the ILWU) because there has been a request in for 650 new people for the past year and the PMA has refused to process those people. For the industry this is a critical question.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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