Chilean fruit ship discharge operations at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware.
Chilean fruit ship discharge operations at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware.

The Port of Wilmington received the first breakbulk shipment of Chilean winter fruit to arrive in the U.S.

The m/v Coral Mermaid, a refrigerated vessel operated by Global Reefers, arrived at the port Dec. 18, according to a news release.

The ship held over 756,000 boxes of fresh cherries, blueberries, stone fruit, and table grapes, according to the release. Before distribution to Eastern markets, imported fruit is stored in the port’s 800,000 on-dock refrigerated warehouse complex.

During the winter fruit season from December through April, the Port of Wilmington expects to receive at least 25 shiploads of fruit from the Chilean ports of Valparaiso, Coquimbo, and Caldera. Global Reefers, a recent joint venture of two port customers Pacific Seaways and Seatrade, is the only shipping line providing an express service direct from Chile to the Port of Wilmington, according to the release.

“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,” Gene Bailey, the Port’s executive director said in the release.

In the 2012-13 season, the Port of Wilmington received about 18 million boxes of Chilean fruit, up 22% from the previous season.

The fruit trade with Chile generates $49.5 million in personal income, $52.8 million in business revenue and $4.9 million in tax revenue for the state and the region, according to the release.