Many businesses are familiar with Prime Fresh Handling’s solid experience and positive track record of expert supply chain management for perishable imports into the U.S. For instance, PFH provides logistics, shipping and handling for fresh cut roses, fresh berries, avocados, and even artisan cheeses inbound to the U.S. from Latin America or fresh fish and seafood shipments heading to North America from Japan.
This year, however, PFH continues has focused on broadening the scope of its global client services. “We’re expanding further and becoming the “go-to” logistics partner for American clients seeking to reliably export their U.S. perishable goods to foreign markets,” says Cristina Moscoso, West Coast general manager based at LAX.
Not Just Imports, Exports Too!
“From export shipments of fresh potatoes to citrus fruit, cauliflower, apples and life-saving medications, some U.S. companies are already benefiting from our perishables logistics expertise and well-honed global partnerships,” Moscoso explains. Most notably, she points to her firm’s experience with “boots on the ground” in arranging overseas air, ocean, rail, and trucking transportation. PFH also possesses firsthand knowledge and invaluable experience in dealing with foreign countries’ complex customs rules and regulations.
“Let’s just say that we already have excellent relationships with the right partners and in the right places” she emphasizes. That combined with PFH’s decades of international experience gives clients both cost-effective solutions and strong timeline management for their perishables heading to overseas markets.
U.S. Agricultural Exports
Last year, U.S. exports of farm and food products to the world totaled $196 billion, topping the 2021 total (and previous record) by 11 percent ($19.5 billion), according to the 2022 U.S. Agricultural Export Yearbook. That’s a product of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Export Department. Most of this gain was due to historically high prices, as the overall agricultural export volume of bulk commodities decreased by six percent year-over-year. Soybeans, corn, beef and beef products, dairy products, cotton, and tree nuts were the top export commodities.
As for fresh fruits and vegetables, USDA reported that fresh fruit and vegetable exports were valued at $6.9 billion, a 4 percent decline from 2021, largely attributable to drought conditions and high labor costs. But that’s still “a chunk of change” for the U.S. economy so where do these “grown in the USA” exports end up? Tops is Canada, which received 55 percent or $3.8 billion in fruit and vegetable exports. Other strong markets for U.S. fruit and vegetable exports included Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the European Union, China, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.
According to USDA, U.S. lettuce exports had the largest annual growth, up $71 million, while U.S. cauliflower exports had the second-largest growth, up $62 million. USDA says that Canada accounted for the majority of growth in both those commodities. Anecdotally, cauliflower’s soaring popularity is likely coupled with an increased global focus on wellness as a lifestyle choice. In fact, WebMD says this rich fiber source promotes a healthy digestive system and heart, plus its high Vitamin C level can boost the immune system. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center cites California as the top cauliflower-producing U.S. state, producing about 90 percent of the nation’s cauliflower. Arizona and Oregon are also top producers.
In terms of citrus, top producing states include Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas. Interesting historical factoid? Did you know that fresh oranges (citrus), were first grown in the U.S. as early as the 16th century. Yep, a letter penned in 1579 by the nephew of Spaniard Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who had founded St. Augustine, FL, in 1565, talked about the local orange trees. That was decades prior to the founding of Jamestown, Va., by English settlers.
Among fresh fruit exports in 2022, U.S. strawberries grew by $12 million as higher shipments to Mexico and Kuwait offset lower exports to Canada, says USDA. Apples peaches, citrus, table grapes, and cherries continue to make up nearly half of total U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable exports.
Continued growth in Exports
“We ship significant amounts of fresh fruits and veggies, and we’re expecting our export perishables shipments to continue to grow as we move into 2024,” Moscoso says. In addition to the “tried and true” markets for perishable exports, she sees PFH’s customers also evaluating new overseas growth opportunities. From USDA’s perspective, top new growth markets for fresh fruits and vegetables include Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.
Beyond food, PFH also ships other types of perishables including medicines, medical supplies, and vaccines. According to The Observatory of Economic Complexity’s website, pharmaceutical products are an $806 billion business and rank as the world’s sixth most traded goods. Among the top exporting countries for drugs and medicines are Germany in the top spot, as well as Switzerland, Belgium, the U.S., and Italy. Collectively that quintet of countries generated nearly 50 percent of globally exported drugs and medicines in 2022.
“Moving toward the end of the year, Prime Fresh Handling will continue to do more on the export side and whether you desire to export fresh fruits, vegetables, pharmaceuticals or other perishables, we look forward to chatting with you about how we can help in shipping your goods overseas,” says Moscoso. “So, give us a call as you look ahead to 2024 and consider new avenues for your U.S.-produced goods to head into the international marketplace.”
Of course, “our marketplace expertise also extends two ways – both inbound and outbound,” says Moscoso. “So, whether you need logistics, shipping and handling for perishable imports, or exports, we’re here to assist. We’ll smooth the journey for your valued goods as they begin their trip to both boost both global economies and your corporate bottom line.”