The Port of Los Angeles informs it has approved a five-year lease extension for SSA Pacific, Inc. to continue operating the marine terminal that is the West Coast’s home to imported Chilean fruit.
For more than 25 years, Chilean growers have relied on the dedicated terminal to deliver their fresh produce – primarily grapes, stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines and plums, and avocados – to North America’s consumer markets west of the Rockies stretching from Southern California to Vancouver and reaching into West Texas.
Located at Berths 53-55, the 14-acre break bulk terminal specializes in receiving refrigerated cargo ships, also known as reefer vessels, and assembling, distributing, loading and unloading pallets of fresh Chilean fruit. The Port’s vast network of refrigerated trucking services and cold storage facilities safeguard the perishable commodities in transit to grocers, produce markets and distribution centers.
The season for importing Chilean fresh fruit extends from December to April. During the last season, the Port handled more than 82,000 metric tons of Chilean fresh fruit, which represents nearly one-fifth of all fruits and vegetables imported through Los Angeles. The only other U.S. port of call for reefer vessels carrying imported Chilean fresh fruit is the Port of Philadelphia, which serves East Coast markets.
Traveling directly from the Port of Valparaiso, reefer vessels provide optimal cooling and air circulation conditions and speed fresh Chilean fruit to the Port of Los Angeles in 12 days. Containerships deliver Chilean fruit to more U.S. ports, but the journey takes 20 to 23 days due to stops at other South and Central American ports along the way.
SSA Pacific has operated the Los Angeles terminal since 1988, handling fruit and other agricultural products. The terminal has handled imported Chilean fruit exclusively for more than a decade.
The renewal extends SSA’s lease with the Port through October 31, 2022. The Los Angeles City Council is expected to finalize the agreement in the coming months.
Fruits and nuts are Chile’s top export to the U.S. The U.S. is Chile’s second largest trade partner, with total goods and services exchanged between the two nations valued at $29.8 billion.