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Bring Your Berry Business to Fruition with the Help of CAFTA DR

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Did you know that the U.S. imports roughly 9.3 million pounds of fresh raspberries and 21 million pounds of fresh blackberries into the country every year?

That’s great news for countries that export produce, including those that are part of CAFTA-DR. The Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement created a free trade passageway between the U.S. and Central America in 2005. Eleven years later, it is still going strong. Today, 80% of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products are duty-free.

CAFTA-DR countries (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic) have access to one of the biggest global berry consumers—The United States. Mexico is another big player, since it exports an average of $1 billion in strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries into the U.S. over a five-year span. The U.S. market alone for fresh-cut fruits and veggies is estimated at about $27 billion dollars!

While the U.S. consumes a large portion of the world’s raspberry supply, the U.S. it is also a large exporter of the fruit. In 2014, the U.S. exported a total of 79 million pounds of fresh blueberries, 57.6 million pounds of fresh raspberries and 273.6 million pounds of fresh strawberries.

If you’re new to international trade, or if you just want to know a little more about shipping produce overseas, here are some questions to consider:

  1. Is your business export-ready?

All berry exporters (not just CAFTA-DR members) have access to government resources to improve their trade efforts. Some include the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which provides counseling, training and financing programs on overseas trade.

The SBA can also help you find and apply for credit insurance, loans and other global trade programs. Click here to read a few of their success stories. There is also the Export Business Planner, a tool created by the SPA, that is free and open to all businesses worldwide.

Growers outside of the U.S. (especially those involved with CAFTA-DR) can seek financial assistance through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). IDB has already financed a number of small businesses throughout Central America and is still offering investment capital to businesses in the region.

  1. Have you perfected your quality control?

There is one rule for shipping perishable fruits overseas: “Never break the cold chain.”

Imagine the perishable shipment journey as the workings of a high-end watch. With all the gears in the right place, the result is perfection. To maximize quality, value and shelf life, it’s essential that temperature is monitored and managed throughout the cold chain.

What is the ideal shipment temperature for produce? That depends on the kind of berry or fruit you are shipping. For example, the USDA recommendation for strawberry shipments are around 1° Fahrenheit (17° Celsius). However, other factors, like the use of dry ice or the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, can impact fruit quality.

Also, timing is key. The quicker the transport, the longer the shelf life. So, when choosing between air and sea, keep your consumer experience in mind. Amerijet’s Temperature Controlled program is ideal for shipping perishable freight.

With 40 years of “real life” experiences, Amerijet has proven temperature monitoring processes and programs in place for the transportation, storage and ground handling of temperature controlled shipments.

  1. More about Amerijet

Miami is a leading hub and transfer center for perishable imports and exports worldwide. At Miami International Airport, Amerijet offers comprehensive export and import facilities. The Amerijet custom-built 10,300 square-foot cooling facility is designed to maintain the cool chain integrity of perishables during the transportation process, handling great volumes of fruits, veggies, fish, foodstuffs and live plants.

For more information, please visit www.amerijet.com or call our MIA Station at 305-593-2997

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