State and federal agencies are working to finalize a pilot program to bring grapes and blueberries from Peru and Uruguay into Florida’s Port Everglades and PortMiami, starting in October.
The permit to proceed is expected to be approved this month.
Current regulations dictate that grapes, blueberries and other perishables must first be brought into the U.S. through North Atlantic ports with cooler climates. If the pilot program is successful, fruit could be shipped directly to South Florida and delivered to local grocery stores faster and at a lower cost. Furthermore, the program could be expanded to include other temperature-controlled perishables from Peru, Uruguay and other countries.
“Our ambition is to have this pilot become a success so it can be expanded to other countries and other commodities,” said Lee Sandler, an attorney with Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, at a recent meeting between regulatory agencies, importers, growers, shippers and terminal operators at Port Everglades. Sandler, who spoke on behalf of the Florida Perishables Trade Coalition, noted that a key component of the program’s success will be to prevent fruit-fly infestation during the pilot.