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Over the past two decades, agricultural import/export has led to double digit annual growth at Port of Savannah and vaulted the Southeast Georgia facility into the nation’s top 4 ports. In what could be a game-changer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has now cleared Savannah to serve as a new entry port for Chilean blueberries.
EDITOR’S NOTE — SPW recently spent a day at Port of Savannah filming for upcoming coverage — stay tuned

Previously, the imported berries could only enter the U.S. through one of three regions: South Florida, Philadelphia/New York, and LA/Long Beach.

“Because Savannah is hundreds of miles closer to major Southeastern markets such as Atlanta, landing chilled cargo at Garden City Terminal means fruit reaches consumers faster, cheaper and fresher, with total transit time reduced by three to seven days,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.
The SPW Crew atop a freight crane at the Port of Savannah last week. Editor Chip Carter took this shot along with the one above

Blueberries from Chile are now handled in a controlled environment by PortFresh Logistics, located seven miles from Interstate 95 and 15 miles from GPA’s Garden City Terminal.

“For importers, shipping product to a port that is closer to the consumer market creates a more efficient supply chain and reduces overall cost,” said PortFresh CEO Brian Kastick. “In fact, customers can reduce transit costs by $1,700 per truck when they use the Port of Savannah.”

GPA is working with the USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to increase the number of commodities and countries that can use Savannah as a port of entry. Blueberries are the latest addition to an expanding portfolio at the Port of Savannah, which now includes imported mangos, citrus, grapes, avocados, bananas, apples and pears.

“Savannah already has an established outbound refrigerated market serving exports of domestic products such as pecans, poultry and other proteins,” said Chris Logan, GPA senior director of Trade Development for beneficial cargo owner sales. “Loaded inbound refrigerated boxes represent an expansion opportunity, because they reduce repositioning costs, and deliver savings to our ocean carriers, importers and exporters. Perishables are a key and growing market segment for the GPA.”

Lynch said the GPA has invested steadily in refrigerated container racks, in keeping with an overall philosophy of maintaining infrastructure at least 20 percent above current demand.

The GPA’s FY2018 budget calls for the addition of five refrigerated container racks (for a total of 109), which will add 120 container slots. Once the addition is completed, the new total for rack slots will be 2,616. Counting 716 chassis plug-ins, Savannah’s total capacity will be 3,332 containers at a time.

The Port of Savannah offers on-terminal inspection offices for U.S. Customs & Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture, speeding the inspection process for chilled cargo. Logan said inspection at local facilities can also be arranged.

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