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Game-changing Veracruz-Philadelphia trade route to begin next month

PHILADELPHIA — Beginning Jan. 26, there will be a direct weekly sea trade route between Mexico’s east coast and Philadelphia.  

An official deal that was years in discussion and negotiation was finally announced Dec. 17. The carrier is SeaLand, which sent a client advisory announcing the new service to Ship Philly First members.  

Ship Philly First is a non-profit, membership organization of private business owners who operate port-related companies in the Delaware Valley.PackerOn Feb. 3, Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal will receive the first of new weekly SeaLand refrigerated container service calls from Mexico’s east coast. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

“I’ve been told that northbound pricing on this service for perishables is saving several cents per case compared to current trucking rates," Larry Antonucci, the Ship Philly First president, said on Dec. 17. "This is a tremendous opportunity for current port clients already sourcing from Mexico.”

According to SeaLand’s Dec. 17 advisory, the “SeaLand Atlantico” refrigerated containership route will debark on Tuesdays from the port of Veracruz. It will then take two days to arrive in port Altamira, a Mexican port to the north of Veracruz.  The ship will leave on Thursdays — the same day as arrival — and then arrive at the port of Philadelphia on the following Wednesday.  

Antonucci indicated that Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal is the only U.S. East Coast port of call.

“We are excited to announce the details of our new SeaLand Atlantico, designed to expand your options between Mexico and the U.S. East Coast," SeaLand indicated. "The all-water service from Altamira and Veracruz to Philadelphia, offers you a fast six-day transit time from Mexico to Philadelphia where Mexican shippers are able to access up to 40 percent of the U.S. population within only a day's drive. Additionally, through a robust rail network, the SeaLand Atlantico will provide you with connections into the U.S. Midwest and Canada.”

SeaLand also indicated that the “first sailing under this new service will be on January 26th, 2016, departing from Veracruz, Mexico, heading northbound on the MV Bomar Regent, voyage number 1601.”

Antonucci said that in 2014 New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, which are the three states bordering the Delaware River “exported over $6 billion worth of goods” to Mexico, with Pennsylvania contributing more than 50 percent.  

Antonucci said this Mexican maritime trade would not just involve perishables, which would be the largest part of the business.  

Roughly 35 percent of all produce imported into the United States comes from Mexico, he added.  There are also large northbound volumes of meat proteins such as beef and poultry, as well as sugar, alcohol and chemicals.  Key southbound commodities would be automobile parts and manufacturing equipment.  There is a “maquila” trade with Mexican workers assembling auto parts from the U.S.  These parts are returned to the U.S. for completion of cars.   

Antonucci said the final arrangement is “due in large part to the tremendous efforts” made by the Ship Philly First membership, SeaLand, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, Carlos Ignacio Giralt, who is Mexico’s consul to Philadelphia, and the port of Veracruz.  Antonucci especially recognized the efforts of Fred Sorbello, who is the very active past-president of Ship Philly First.

Beyond his volunteer work for Ship Philly First, Antonucci runs the firm he founded, 721 Logistics LLC, and its specialty perishables division, J&K Fresh East.