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Companies closed, imports halted

Hurricane Matthew entered Florida

UPDATED - Hurricane Matthew attacked Florida’s coast this morning, leaving more than 1 million homes without power and claiming three victims. A tropical storm that was downgraded to a category 3 with winds of 120 miles per hour. The storm first killed 280 people in Haiti. Governor Rick Scott told 1.5 million people to evacuate.

As of 10 am ET on Friday, the center was 30 miles east-southeast of Daytona Beach. As of 2 p.m. ET Friday afternoon, hurricane Matthew was 60 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Florida. The storm is projected to run parallel to 500 miles of coast over the next two days, stretching from Florida, to Georgia and up into South Carolina. It could make landfall near Charleston as a Category 2 or 3 Saturday morning.

Fresh produce companies in Florida were unavailable to comment on Thursday afternoon as offices were closed. One person was even boarding up his house at the time we called. Some companies with locations in other parts of the country, had their phones transferred and handled business through locations outside Florida.

Limited impact on imports
Thursday morning, FreshPlaza spoke with a few produce importers. There will be some impact, although very limited. “Because of the natural disaster, planes aren’t flying in to Miami,” said Bob Von Rohr with Sunny Valley International. The company imports blueberries from Argentina this time of year. “It’s just a two-day glitch. As a result, we may see a little lower supply for a few days, but everything will be back to normal soon,” he mentioned.

Ports are closed as well, which means arrival of produce by vessel is also delayed. Sergio Palala with Splendid Products imports mangos from Brazil and doesn’t expect any impact for the availability of mangos in the stores. “Inventory is so high at the moment that we won’t notice an interruption of a couple days,” he mentioned. 

We will publish an update as soon as more information is available on the impact the hurricane had on fresh produce crops.