On the Water and at the Port

Higher volumes of food products traveling greater distances prompts improvements in refrigerated equipment and facilities.


According to Janet Ramos, director of national accounts for Crowley Maritime Corporation, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida: “The Port of Miami and Port Everglades, along with other Florida ports, are currently working together to obtain authorization to allow cold treatment-requiring cargo to come through the Florida ports. If this initiative is successful, it will effectively reduce the transit time of many perishable products that presently have to go through other ports within the U.S. to obtain the required treatment needed (cold treatment) before they’re allowed to move elsewhere. There is a definite movement in projects geared toward cold chain, since it is such an important part of handling perishables.”

In addition, the Panama Canal expansion project will create a more efficient navigational route for carriers and shippers, facilitating the transportation of higher volumes of cargo. The expansion project is likely to be finalized in April 2015.

Meanwhile Geneva, Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) recently started weekly service between the Port of Miami and ports located in Central America. The new route will connect the Port of Miami with: Puerto Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; Puerto Cortes, Honduras; Freeport, Bahamas; and the Port of Jacksonville.

Crowley is opening a new cold storage facility in their Miami location called Crowley Fresh, which is designed to handle temporary or overflow storage for fresh flowers, produce and seafood. The 24/7 facility is equipped with state-of-the-art cooling and monitoring equipment that can be adjusted for various temperature requirements.

In addition to the new Crowley Fresh facility in Miami, “We also have a special USDA-approved cold chamber at Port Everglades that allows us to manipulate cargo when needed for fumigation,” says Ramos. “We make these investments in equipment to ensure our customers always get the best, and that their product remains fresh.”

For example, Crowley’s Highly Mobile Actionable Pest (HMAP) refrigerated chamber helps customers avoid having to re-export fruit and vegetable goods due to pests.

In early November, the Port of Los Angeles announced a project to modernize one its primary container terminals, TraPac. The terminal expansion will increase capacity from 900,000 TEUs to 2.4 million TEUs by 2025, and it also includes the production of a new on-dock rail facility.

The improvements at TraPac will positively impact the global food supply chain. TraPac handles a variety of food on both the import and export side.

“Recently, the terminal began to handle Australian and New Zealand lamb products coming into the U.S., in addition to the many food products that routinely move through TraPac,” explains Phillip Sanfield, director of media relations at the Port of Los Angeles. “So, having a more efficient terminal and on-dock rail will make the terminal more efficient and competitive. The terminal will also have the capability to grow as demand increases with both imports and exports. This growth potential also helps the global food logistics chain.”

A number of ports around the world are undertaking major expansion projects to handle growing volumes of international trade. One example is China’s Yuanhai Automated Container Terminal, which will become the country’s first fully automated terminal. The facility, which will be located at the Haicang Port in Xiamen province, will encompass a length of approximately 1,765 feet (538 meters) and a depth of 1,010.5 feet (308 meters). It will also boast zero emissions.

The terminal’s throughput is expected to range between 780,000 and 910,000 TEUs—a 20 percent improvement over the average throughput at similar terminals.

The impact of rules and regulations

The growing number of food safety and traceability initiatives in the U.S. as well as foreign markets is also driving developments in refrigerated transportation. Simply put, consumers want to know that their food is protected and state and federal governments are responding.

At the beginning of January 2013, the latest requirements from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will be phased in. Chief among those is the FSMA’s requirement that U.S. importers implement a foreign supplier verification program to guarantee all imported food complies with U.S. food safety regulations.

According to Section 3 of the FSMA, each importer shall execute risk-based foreign supplier verification activities for the purpose of verifying that the food imported by the importer is produced in compliance with the FSMA requirements and is not tainted or misbranded. Verification activities also include periodic inspections.

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