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Houston Ports Receive Cold Storage Capabilities for Fresh Veggies

The Department of Agriculture has now updated its rules to ensure that ports outside the Northeast can receive their agriculture produce much easier.
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The agricultural products that are consumed at restaurants usually have to endure a long hassle, from farm to table.

Restaurant owners have had to deal with the cost of moving raw materials from place to place while preserving their freshness, and this commute usually constitutes massive losses for them if not handled properly.

It’s notably worse for products like grapes- highly perishable agricultural produce that, aren’t even grown in the United States. 

However, things are changing now. After being flooded with demand from importers of fruit and vegetables in the South, the Department of Agriculture has now updated its rules to ensure that ports outside the Northeast can receive their agriculture produce much easier.

Combined with increases in investment that will make it easier to store produce and preserve their freshness, this development oils make it cheaper and faster for people in states like Texas to get fresher agricultural produce.

Easier Transportation Will Improve Produce Quality 

Commenting on the development, Brent Erenwert, chief executive of fruit and vegetable distributor Brother Produce, told the Houston Chronicle that these developments will make it easier for fruits such as grapes to come through Houston- essentially improving access by everyday users, restaurants, and more. 

Importing fruits and vegetables has always been a bit of a tricky situation in the United States. Thanks to their susceptibility to pests and diseases and the fact that their origins can’t exactly be trusted, it’s important for ports to have specialized facilities and federal programs that will enable them to screen the products and ensure that they’re free of any dangers that could turn to epidemics across the country.

Fruits and vegetables are sorted in the Houston Cold Storage Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Houston.
Fruits and vegetables are sorted in the Houston Cold Storage Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Houston. Image Source.

As the news outlet noted, only a few ports across the United States have the capability to handle cold storage. When the Agriculture Department first established cold storage regulations, it limited cold storage facilities to ports that were located in the Northeastern part of the country.

This was to ensure that in case cold storage and fumigation procedures failed to address the problem of invasive fruit flies, they’d still be killed by the unfavorable weather of that region. 

As for the ports in states like Houston, things have expectedly been more complicated. Most importers will need to first send the grapes to the Port of Cartagena in Colombia, where they could be treated for weeks before being brought back to Houston. The new rules will bring a stop to that, allowing Houston to complete their in-transit cold storage treatment. 

Cold Storage Demand for Agric Produce Rises

Cold storage has also been on the rise in the United States poultry market as well. Reports concerning broiler production in November 2019 were estimated at about 3.4 billion; a 4 percent increase over the year before. Slaughter rates also increased by 2.5 percent (when adjusted for slaughter days). 

2020 production has also been estimated to be about 45.2 billion; about 4 percent higher than those of 2019. Abundant supply over demand is expected to put pressure on wholesale prices, as well as cold storage and broiler ending inventories. The November storage number showed broiler ending inventories reaching 957 million pounds- the highest quantity for the metric ever recorded.

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Robin Watson

Robin owns his own Landscape Gardening company based in the UK and has over 10 years professional experience working outdoors, creating beautiful landscapes for his clients in the UK. He is also a keen garden-grower and maintains his own fruit and vegetable gardens. He also has a level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture from The Royal Horticultural Society and is currently working on his first book about gardening. Contact him at Robin@gardenbeast.com

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