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Managing imports as Hurricane Beryl travels through growing regions

As Hurricane Beryl makes its way through the Caribbean, there's concern about the aftermath in the produce world.

With the Category 5 storm potentially impacting Central America, that may mean some tightening on banana and plantain supplies for North America. "Our Jamaican commodities will be affected as well including the supply of Negro and yellow yams," says Anthony Serafino of Exp Group, LLC.

Logistics affected too
While the supply of commodities is a concern, logistics are another hurdle to deal with after weather events such as Beryl, which is an unusually early hurricane this year. "There are logistical constraints following a storm of this magnitude–ships need to move out of the way, shipping offices are closed in the Caribbean or Central America," says Serafino, adding that there may be infrastructure challenges too. "Once you allocate and reposition ships away from the storm, miss certain berths, you have to get those ships back in the cycle again."

For example, shipments from South America typically go through the Panama Canal, through the Caribbean, and over to North America. That journey will likely be slowed or redirected. In all, it could take up to 10-14 days to reset the logistics.

Quality on commodities is also a concern. Beryl is anticipated to bring a lot of rain into Mexico and Central America and bananas and plantains are largely grown in the northern portion of Central America. "The rain will affect a variety of commodities as well in Mexico–we're getting into papaya, tomatoes, and Aloe Vera," says Serafino. "There are definitely quality concerns when you deal with massive amounts of rain. Jamaica may deal with potentially 13+ inches of rain."

Concerns over quality
Impacts on quality of course can also lead to volume issues. "We are just very concerned about the quality on items. We pride ourselves on bringing in the best quality and when quality falls off due to rain or other weather conditions, the volume drops because we're more selective of quality. Then we're dealing with a supply shortage as well," he says, adding that those concerns around quality may last for weeks.

In the meantime, Exp Group is working on communicating with customers around the issue. "Our maritime partners illustrate this to us very vividly but sometimes the client may not understand so we do our best to make them aware of the issue," says Serafino, adding that part of dealing with the aftermath of a storm like Beryl could also mean pivoting sourcing commodities from other countries not affected by the storm.

For more information:
Anthony Serafino
Exp. Group LLC
Tel: (+1) 201-662-2001
[email protected]