Currently, kiwifruit, grapes, and blueberries from Chile have fumigation requirements, whether country-wide or by growing region, said Frank Ramos, president of Miami-based customs brokerage The Perishable Specialist.
No major changes have occurred following the blueberry fumigation requirements that came into effect last year.
However, Chris Kragie, deciduous fruit manager for Madera, Calif.-based Western Fresh Marketing, said efforts are underway that will try and loosen the requirements for kiwifruit.
“It would help tremendously to strengthen the longevity of kiwi. Fumigating anything kills the longevity, and kiwi are a harder item, but when you bring the temperature up, you really decrease the shelf life of the fruit,” Kragie said.
Mario Flores, director of blueberry product management for Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, said the main changes he expects are simply more logistical concerns with more fruit being fumigated.
“Many crops like table grapes that already had a fumigation protocol will see little effect from the overall fumigation requirement on blueberries, other than more competition for fumigation services at U.S. ports,” Flores said.
“This season we start out with the knowledge that we will have to plan for fumigation versus the surprise announcements mid-season,” he said, mentioning this will not only allow grower-shippers to be better prepared, but will also affect shipping trends.
“We will see fewer air shipments in December than in previous years as growers will opt to put more fruit by boat in November and December, for December and January arrival,” Flores said.
The alternative would be for companies to fumigate in Chile and then air freight it into the U.S.
Another effect will be a variety of quality and shelf life among shipments of blueberries from Chile, as growers who have product grown in regions not under fumigation requirements are likely to have slightly better product.
“With fruit that isn’t fumigated, you have two benefits, one is a long shelf life, and two, you can maintain the natural bloom of the blueberry,” said Dirk Winkelmann, director, Nathel International, Pittsgrove, N.J.
Winkelmann said Nathel’s Chilean blueberries won’t be required to be fumigated this year but much of the overall deal will be.
Evan Myers, director of South American imports for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, expects fumigation to begin affecting the shipping and packing processes.
“We’ll start to see more forced air cooling after fumigation to cool that fruit down faster after fumigation,” Myers said.