For the third consecutive year, the first ship of the season bearing Chilean fruit has come to the U.S. port of Wilmington, Del.

First Chilean fruit arrives in WilmingtonThe Polarstream, a Pacific Seaways’s chartered refrigerated breakbulk vessel, arrived into Wilmington with Chilean fruit on Dec. 17, according to a news release from the port. The vessel carried nearly 6,600 pallets of table grapes, blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums, according to the release.

Chilean Ambassador Felipe Bulnes, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Chile’s Exporters Association (ASOEX) President Ronald Bown, Pacific Seaways Executive Director Francisco Labarca and Port officials were on hand at the arrival, according to the release.

“Delaware’s seaport is the doorway through which Chilean fruit enters into North American homes this holiday season,” Governor Jack Markell said in the release. “Our robust bilateral trade and long and strong friendship with Chile create many good jobs and stimulates the economies on both sides of the equator and we are working to continue growing it into the future.”

The release said the port of Wilmington handled 15.9 million cases of Chilean fruit during the 2011-12 season. The economic effect of the fruit trade in Delaware is substantial, the release said, supporting 750 jobs and generating $40 million in personal income and $42 million in business revenue and $4 million in tax revenues for the state and region.

The Port of Wilmington anticipates a total of about 25 ship-calls from the Chilean ports of Valparaiso, Coquimbo and Caldera, according to the release.

U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that U.S. imports of Chilean fruit from November 2011 through October 2012 totaled $1.39 billion, including $609 million for grapes and $207 million for blueberries.