HOUSTON — With more than 30 million people living within a six-hour drive, Houston is a desirable location for incoming cargo.


But its airports were lacking in fresh cargo receiving.


When the George Bush Intercontinental Airport’s first air cargo center filled up in a little over a year and a half, the Trammell Crow Co. saw a need for more space, specifically for fresh cargo, said Jeremy Garner, vice president for development and investment.


Streamlined shipping


Trammell Crow recognized that the vast majority of perishable cargo that was imported into the U.S. is imported into other coastal cities and then trucked to its final destination.


“We wondered why it wasn’t more involved in this trade,” Garner said.


“We knew it was a logical choice for importing and distributing fresh air cargo from Latin America due to its geographic proximity.”


A large local population, high value exports, status as a hub for Continental Airlines and potential for transshipments to Asia, Europe and the Middle East also made it a desirable location for perishable air cargo.


Trammell Crow and the Houston Airport system spent the next couple of years marketing the concept of fresh cargo at IAH to growers, foreign consulates, freight forwarders, airlines, ground handlers, fresh perishables goods distributors, wholesalers and retailers.


They came up with a design and found an airline interested in flying cargo from South America to IAH and found a tenant to operate the facility, Tradewinds Cargo Handling.


“The facility is the only large-scale on-airport cooler facility at IAH,” Gardner said.


“Prior to its completion there was not adequate infrastructure in place to handle large scale importation of temperature sensitive cargo.”


Initially called the International Air CargoCentre II, the facility is marketed as “Fresh Air Cargo — IAH.”


Benefits


The cooler has two separate rooms that include pre-coolers. Tradewinds Cargo Handling offers precooling, sorting, re-labeling, cargo screening for airlines, freight forwarders, consolidators and commercial shippers and transshipment by air and ground transportation.


Shipping perishable air cargo to IAH saves valuable transit time, Gardner said.


“Airports east of the Mississippi River account for roughly 89% of all perishable cargo imports into the U.S.,” he said.


“Imagine the cost savings associated with increasing the shelf life of a product by two to five days and the satisfaction customers will have receiving product that is two to five days fresher.”


Garner said initial shipments include asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, stone fruit and tropical fruit.


“The facility is designed to handle almost any type of produce, as well as other time- and temperature-sensitive cargo such as fresh cut flowers and seafood.”


The location also is handy for inspections, since the building is next to the Federal Inspection Services. The Houston Airport System’s climate controlled fumigation and perishables treatment facility also is within a quarter of a mile. 


Space still is available at the facility. A little less than half is leased to Tradewinds Cargo Handling. 


For more information, visit www.fly2houston.com/freshcargo.