The Panama Canal Expansion

I want you to keep one particular year in mind—2014!

Given the state of the economy here and abroad it may be difficult for you to go into a deep focus mode. But I assure you that this is going to be a seminal year for the food industry.

This is the year that the Panama Canal expansion project will be completed—a project that will double the amount of traffic going through this crucial waterway—specifically produce from key growing areas throughout Central and South America.

I had the opportunity recently to speak with directors of some of the nation’s largest ports. It means big business many of them and ports like Gulfport, Corpus Christi, Miami-Dade, Wilmington, N.C. and ports in New York and New Jersey who are busily finishing dredging projects, making technological improvements and installing huge Panamax cranes to handle a new generation of container ships that are twice or three times the size of anything on the water today.

By the way, if someone invites you to go up in one of these cranes make sure you have a strong stomach since they go up about 300 feet with little between you and mother earth but a sheet of glass.

Everyone is running around like ants trying to complete these “super” Panamax crane projects and infrastructure improvements before the Canal’s grand reopening. If you’re a retailer all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the view—and the imports.

I’m not saying that produce costs are going to plummet when vastly increased traffic slides through the locks. But it could cut in half the amount of time it takes containerized cargo to reach certain areas of the U.S., provide better quality product and perhaps a variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables that can make a produce section look like everyone’s fantasy farmer’s market 12 months a year. Stay tuned in!

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