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Shipment deal with Spain will bear fruit
1:10pm Tuesday 5th November 2013 in News
A DEAL that could see up to 500,000 tonnes of Spanish fruit and vegetables shipped through the port of Southampton every year is still on – despite a first shipment being cancelled.
The new trade to Southampton’s port was agreed in July at The Grand Harbour Hotel in a special ceremony attended by Spanish political and business leaders from the port city of Almeria.
As well as creating jobs in Southampton the deal is estimated to save 20 million kilometres of road miles every year and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 47 per cent by taking the produce by sea instead of on lorries.
But Southampton Fruit Handling, which is based at Berth 104 in the city’s Western Docks, cancelled its first shipment last Monday, October 28, because of what has been described as “technical difficulties” in Spain.
Managing director Chris Harris was tight-lipped about the exact nature of the hitch, but insisted his company was still on course to import the fruit.
He said: “There is no problem. It is a temporary delay. “It is one of those frustrating things. There were a couple of technical difficulties and we thought it better to postpone.”
Mr Harris said it would take two weeks before any new shipment date could be set.
The contract with growers in Spain is to annually import between 200,000 and 500,000 tonnes of tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, peppers and other fresh produce.
Initially the arrangement will see one new ship calling at Southampton every nine days but that number is expected to quickly climb to two or three ship calls every week.
Chambers of commerce in Almeria and Southampton have also signed a memorandum of understanding in a bid to stimulate even more trade between the two ports.
Southampton Fruit Handling (SFH), which has been operating in the city since 1987, has a long-standing deal with the Canary Islands to import fresh produce during a seven-month season.
The deal with mainland Spain trebles the size of SFH’s business and turns it into a 52 weeks a year operation.
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