The Port of Wilmington, Delaware had the honor of receiving the first breakbulk shipment of Chilean winter fruit to arrive in the US for the fourth consecutive season. The m/v Coral Mermaid, a specialized refrigerated vessel operated by Global Reefers, was welcomed on Wednesday, December 18 to the nation’s premier marine terminal for perishable cargo.
In the early morning hours on a crisp and sunny late Fall morning, she commenced unloading her cargo of over 756,000 boxes of fresh cherries, blueberries, stone fruit, and table grapes. Wilmington is a major port of entry and distribution center for the seasonal importation of fresh Chilean fruit. During this season the Port anticipates receiving at least 25 shiploads of fruit from the Chilean ports of Valparaiso, Coquimbo, and Caldera. Newly formed Global Reefers, a joint venture of two long term Port customers Pacific Seaways and Seatrade, is the sole shipping line providing an express service direct from Chile to the Port of Wilmington. ”The arrival of the Coral Mermaid marks the fourth year in a row that Wilmington has had the opportunity to optimally support our Chilean partners’ and our local customers’ commercial interests by enabling them to be ‘first to market’ with the freshest fruit for this holiday season,” said Gene Bailey, the Port’s Executive Director.
The Chilean fruit season runs from December through April, satisfying the enormous consumer demand in North America for high quality fresh fruit during the wintertime. “We are very pleased and excited that Wilmington and Global Reefers are ‘first on the River’ for the Chilean season,” said John Coulahan, President of Pacific Delaware, Inc. “Everyone is hoping for a good season and we welcome the Coral Mermaid to the Port.”
The cargo is stored in the Port’s 800,000 sf on-dock refrigerated warehouse complex, North America’s largest, before distribution throughout Canada and the eastern region of the US. The Port handled nearly 18 million boxes of Chilean fruit in the 2012-13 season a 22% increase over the previous season. This important trade supports over 900 family sustaining jobs and annually generates $49.5 million in personal income, $52.8 million in in business revenue and $4.9 million in tax revenue for the State and the region.