The Perishable Specialist, a leading customs brokerage firm headquartered in Miami, handles fresh produce exclusively. Ana Ramos, co-owner with her husband Frank, said that a broker that specializes in fresh fruits and vegetables serves the importer and shipper best because every bit of effort is concentrated within the produce industry.
This season’s offshore program was already off to a strong start for the company in late November. “We are seeing good volumes of asparagus from Peru and blueberries from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay,” said Ramos. “Mangos are arriving from Brazil and Ecuador. And of course, the year-round steady flow from Guatemala continues, which includes peas, french beans and assorted baby squashes.”
She noted that based on its clearing program, the company is now seeing more fruit via Miami ports, and it expects more in the future. “We’re particularly excited about the upcoming ocean program, as opposed to air freight, on blueberries from Chile,” she said.
The list of products that the company clears through customs and handles other details related to importation is too extensive to quantify, but she has the points of origin down to an alphabetical list.
“We clear perishable products from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Spain and Uruguay,” she said.
In late November, The Perishable Specialist was deep into movements of blueberries from Argentina and Chile, as well as asparagus from Peru.
The company has excellent relationships with the most efficient carriers for both land and ocean, as well as some modern and efficient cold storage facilities. It is able to coordinate on behalf of its importers and act as a bridge for them and their logistical needs, Ramos said.
“We also coordinate the fumigation of commodities on a daily basis,” added Ramos. “This is called for when there are items that require fumigation as a condition of entry into the United States, or because an actionable pest has been intercepted. We are involved in fumigation procedures for commodities arriving into East and West Coast ports by air and ocean container.”
The company is very proud of the relationships it has developed since the husband-and-wife team founded it in 2001. Their goal is to provide what Ramos calls a “boutique” feel to customs clearing by providing the services needed by the industry’s top importers while maintaining a personal touch.
As the company has evolved, the staff has grown to nearly 20 full-time employees, and it has celebrated a grand opening of a new contemporary state-of-the-art office in Doral in the heart of Miami International Airport.
In 2003, the company was ranked No. 27 in Entrepreneur magazine’s America’s Fastest Growing New Businesses. In 2005 it made the list on Hispanic Business’ Top 500 Companies.
In 2004, the company was certified as a member of C-TPAT, and was validated by C-TPAT in 2006. In 2007, it achieved approval as Remote Location Filer by Customs & Border Protection, which allows it to provide customs clearance at all ports in the U.S.
“As with everything in life, relationships are paramount in importance, and the produce industry is no exception,” said Ramos. “Our staff has the ability to effectively communicate and engage the numerous government agencies that oversee the importation of fruits and vegetables into the U.S.
Looking forward in the current season, Ramos said blueberries from Chile will run until the end of March.
“Asparagus from Peru peaks during the next few months, but we will see some asparagus coming by air year-round,” she added. “Mangos from South America are going strong at the moment.”