North Carolina Ports continues to expand its role as a global supply chain gateway by welcoming its first shipment of banana imports from Central America this week. These initial refrigerated shipments from Guatemala signal the start of a yearlong program commitment of weekly banana imports via the Port of Wilmington.
“Today’s shipments mean fresh fruits will reach consumers faster and cheaper,” said Hans Bean, VP, Trade Development, NC Ports. “This represents major progress in our ability to service North Carolina’s significant grocery sector, several of which are having their headquarters and perishable distribution centers in NC.”
Upon arrival at the Port of Wilmington, the bananas will be trucked to distribution centers across the Carolinas. With expanding port coverage across the many ocean carriers now calling Wilmington, suppliers can tailor orders to deliver more often, closer to their customers and closer to actual market demand.
“Bananas are the latest addition to North Carolina Ports’ expanding portfolio in the perishables industry,” said Brian Clark, NC Ports Chief Operating Officer. “Joint efforts with our customers, our cold chain partners and government agencies including CBP and USDA have helped facilitate these new produce flows via the preferred NC gateway of Wilmington. This will deliver benefits for produce customers, carriers and consumers with optimized routings and efficiencies through the Port of Wilmington.”
The port also reached a monumental milestone in December becoming the first South Atlantic port to implement both phases of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot program. The program allows for more direct imports of produce including blueberries, grapes, apples, pears and citrus.
This latest achievement is just another example of the Authority’s commitment to growing the movement of refrigerated cargo through Wilmington. “This expansion of produce imports is also a perfect complement to NC’s major refrigerated export base – meaning ocean carriers can optimize equipment flows while serving their global customers” added Bean.
To aid in supporting the growing perishables industry, the Port of Wilmington has ample refrigerated capacity on terminal, with the ability to expand further. In addition to containerized refrigerated capacity, the port is also home to Port of Wilmington Cold Storage – one of only a few on-port cold storage facilities in the country.