North Carolina enters second phase of USDA Cold Treatment Pilot Program at Port of Wilmington

North Carolina Ports have made the Port of Wilmington unique among South Atlantic ports with the announcement that it would enter a second phase of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Cold Treatment Pilot Program.

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That program takes perishable fruits like blueberries, grapes, and apples and reduces their pulp to a particular temperature, thereby meeting USDA quarantine requirements for fruit imports. Phase two will focus on speed, allowing the port to finish the treatment schedule of refrigerated cargo right at the terminal, prior to discharge. It will be the only South Atlantic port thus far to have that capability.

“The addition of N.C. Ports to the program allows the Authority to serve the North Carolina grocery sector with fresh produce with our partner ocean carriers with multiple logistical and economic advantages,” Hans Bean, vice president of trade and development for North Carolina Ports, said.

Under the program, fruits are chilled between 15 and 17 days at the aforementioned temperature. That helps guard them against invasive pests. Exporting countries in Central and South America begin that freezing process while participating terminals in the United States conclude and guarantee its success.

Presently, the Port hosts nearly 300 plugs at its terminal and room for more. It also boasts a 101,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse at its terminal.

“Phase Two opens up a totally new dimension for our Port and an option for importers to complete treatment after discharge,” Bean said.