Chilean cherries shipped to Guangzhou via express service

(People's Daily Online) 15:51, February 04, 2024

This photo taken on Jan. 20, 2024 shows Chilean cherries at a store in north China's Tianjin. (Xinhua/Zhao Zishuo)

In the early hours of Jan. 27, 2024, a cargo vessel carrying 19,000 tonnes of fresh Chilean cherries arrived at Nansha Port in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province.

Ye Zijie, a bridge crane operator born after the year 2000, along with his four colleagues, had the task of unloading all 808 containers, including those filled with Chilean cherries, within five hours. "Our task is to unload the cherries as quickly as we can," he said.

This vessel marked the seventh arrival at Nansha Port via the Chilean "Cherry Express" service for the 2023-2024 cherry season. The "express service" provides direct shipping from Chilean ports to Nansha Port, bypassing any stopovers at other ports. The entire journey spans just 21 days, slashing the shipping duration by over half compared to regular routes.

Similarly, Ye Jianming, manager of the business development department for Nansha Port's Phase III project, was also up before dawn, overseeing port operations from a monitoring center located less than three kilometers from the port.

"The weekly arrival of the 'Cherry Express' at our port presents us with a significant challenge," Ye Jianming commented.

To meet this challenge, Ye Jianming prepares in advance, organizing plans based on cargo information to ensure the port operates efficiently. "Containers that don't require customs inspection are placed on the uppermost deck so that bridge cranes can quickly remove them at the earliest time possible, while those needing customs inspection are sent to the cold storage facility immediately after unloading," the manager explained, emphasizing that efficiency is the port's core competitive advantage.

By 7:00 a.m., all cherry containers had been unloaded from the vessel, with about 30 percent requiring customs inspection at the Nansha International Logistics Center. This center, which is home to the largest single cold storage in China, is two kilometers away from the port.

At 9:15 a.m., Fan Shuyong, deputy head of the Cold Chain Inspection Department of the Nansha Port's Phase III project under Guangzhou Customs, arrived with his colleagues at the cold storage inspection platform. That day, eight people were tasked with inspecting 177 containers of cherries.

"If all goes smoothly, we can complete the inspection of all these cherries before 8 p.m. Regardless, we never allow the cherries to stay overnight at the inspection platform," Fan said.

Nansha Port anticipates the arrival of two more vessels of the Chilean "Cherry Express" before the Chinese New Year. Approximately 100,000 tonnes of cherries will be imported through the port in the 2023-2024 cherry season.

In the 2022-2023 cherry season, Nansha Port handled the largest volume of imported cherries on the Chinese mainland.

The inspection platform is 100 meters long and 15 meters wide, equivalent to two standard basketball courts, and can accommodate 54 container trucks simultaneously. Nansha Customs has three other inspection platforms of this size.

The primary purpose of inspecting imported fruits is to prevent risks of plant epidemics and food safety issues. Over 10 quarantine indicators, including harmful organisms, and more than 100 indexes related to pesticide residue, need to be examined. During the inspection, Fan scrutinizes the cherries for wormholes, spots, or other flaws. Then, samples are taken in accordance with directives for lab testing for pesticides and contaminants.

Nansha Port offers year-round clearance services. "With a commitment to biosecurity and food safety, we make every effort to quickly deliver fresh cherries to domestic consumers' dining tables," Fan stated.

In recent years, while implementing strict inspections on imported fruits, Nansha Customs has also introduced one-stop customs clearance services and facilitation measures to ensure the safe and efficient processing of perishable agricultural and food products like cherries.

"By utilizing 5G technology during the vessel unloading process, we obtain container information through real-time scanning with high-definition cameras. This information can be automatically linked to the terminal operation system's data, and automatic directives such as direct pickup, storage, and inspection are issued based on customs data according to the goods declaration, thus further enhancing the efficiency of terminal operations and customs clearance of goods," Fan said.

Launched in October 2023, the cold-chain project at Nansha International Logistics Center has played a significant role in ensuring efficient customs clearance. Owing to the implementation of customs clearance facilitation measures, including "ship-side direct pickup," imported cherries can be swiftly transported via highways, covering the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area within one hour.

(Web editor: Chang Sha, Liang Jun)


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