After nearly a decade of efforts between Uruguayan and US agriculture officials, the first shipments of citrus from Uruguay arrived at the Port of Philadelphia earlier this week.
The much-anticipated arrival was greeted by a reception party consisting of various representatives from Seald Sweet, the agriculture and fresh produce industries along with Holt Logistics and other import officials.
“This day has been long awaited and we are so excited to see our years of hard work finally come to fruition,” said Mayda Sotomayor, CEO of Seald Sweet. “The quality of citrus from Uruguay is outstanding and the availability of certain commodities nicely complements our existing citrus programmes.
"This new market access is very positive for our organisation as well as beneficial to US market interests and the Uruguayan farmers,” she added.
The ruling, which came into force in August, allows importers like Seald Sweet to continue to grow the citrus category with year-round availability in the US market, while also giving Uruguayan farmers the opportunity for greater global access.
It has been long awaited and faced numerous set-backs over the years but continued persistent efforts from various individuals and organisations finally led to the USDA requirement of due diligence being met and approval of market access.
Bruce McEvoy, director of global affairs for Seald Sweet and the Univeg Group, was instrumental in the lobbying efforts with the US embassy and Uruguayan officials.
"It's been a very long journey," McEvoy told reception attendees. "Lots of patience was needed along the way. Over the years, I can recall meeting with three of the former presidents of Uruguay, with four ministers of agriculture, and with ambassadors on both sides, US and Uruguay."