By Tad Thompson
Peruvian asparagus exporters will be shipping ocean containers to Philadelphia.
Miriam Borja, who has always gone far beyond her job description to get things done in international trade, tells FreshFruitPortal.com that she had a successful meeting with Peruvian industry leaders at the Global Produce & Floral Show in Anaheim, Oct. 19-21.
Borja is fully retiring at the end of 2023 as Western Fumigation’s senior business development manager. She started with Western 21 years ago and has always worked to increase ocean cargo trade for Delaware River ports. Her primary focus has been overcoming hurdles facing Chilean grape trade, but with that came many other projects, such as bringing Peruvian asparagus to Philadelphia.
On Oct. 26 she tells to FreshFruitPortal.com, “I’ve developed wonderful relationships with some of the Peruvians and particularly with the asparagus group. I had to work on this in order to even get it approved for us to be able to treat Peruvian asparagus in Philadelphia. This is how much groundwork had to be done. You know years ago, when they wanted to bring up some containers to Philly, it turned out that USDA did not allow it to come into Pennsylvania to be treated.”
Borja spent much of the last year “digging around, asking why it was permitted to come into places like New York and whatever, and not to Pennsylvania?” She discovered “for whatever reason, it had never been put in the manual.” She asked the USDA to add Pennsylvania to the manual. They did. “I just had to lay the groundwork for it.
“So, this wasn’t an official announcement of any kind. It’s just that finally they saw the light. They’re coming to Philadelphia. The bulk of their cargo still goes to Miami and probably it will still” for a certain market in the southeast. “But for the portion of asparagus that really is intended for the northern market, it makes sense if you can get it into northern ports. So that’s what we were fighting for, you know: ‘Hey, bring some of that up here. It makes sense. If we can give you good service without delays, without any hiccups, why wouldn’t you want to try this?’
“It’s been a few years in conversations and trying to get the right fit, but I think we finally did it and we expect to grow that. You know, people are hearing that they’ve had good experiences and now we’re getting phone calls from more people who want to come. I see that as a as a big win.”