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American ShipperShipping

Port of Virginia ready for South American perishables

The port authority completed the USDA’s Southeast InTransit Cold Treatment Pilot program, showing its ability to handle refrigerated containers of South American fruits.

   The Port of Virginia is ready to begin accepting commercial imports of perishables from South America after completing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast InTransit Cold Treatment Pilot program. 
    “We’re the U.S. East Coast’s leading vegetable exporter, and this designation positions us to achieve the same success with imported fruit,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, in a statement.
    “This is important for logistics and supply chain managers importing agricultural products because it means this cargo will get to its market more quickly,” he added.
   In October 2017, the port authority began participating in the USDA pilot program to allow imports of certain refrigerated fresh fruits from South America, including blueberries, citrus and grapes from Peru; blueberries and grapes from Uruguay; and apples, blueberries and pears from Argentina.
   Before the USDA started the pilot program in 2013, these perishables were required to enter Northeastern ports for cold treatment and clearance and were then transported to southern states for distribution into stores.
   The port expects to invest about $700 million to increase its refrigerated container handling capacity at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT).
    “When construction is finished, we’ll have nearly 900 reefer spaces at each terminal, which is a 66 percent increase in total reefer capacity. We have the necessary federal approval and capacity to help develop Virginia into an export and import center for refrigerated cargo,” Reinhart said.
   The port also noted its capability to handle refrigerated cargo on the Richmond Express barge, which links the port’s terminals in the Norfolk Harbor to Richmond Marine Terminal (RMT) with thrice-weekly service. 

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Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.
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