GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Port of Gulfport executive director, Jonathan Daniels, is pleased with the results of a nine day trade mission to South America.
Daniels visited two countries and met with a variety of potential port customers. He says there is genuine interest in Gulfport.
One of the strongest prospects from the South American trip involves a fresh fruit company in Chile. That company exports about 2.6 million tons of fruit a year, with 65 percent of it heading to the U.S.
"There's a level of interest that we already have the facilities in place. We already have the expertise. As a perishable, we need to be able to get the product in and out very quickly. So, logistically and marketwise, we seem to fit," said Daniels.
That South American shipper told horror stories about using larger, more congested ports.
"Fresh fruit that's sitting in a container for weeks; by the time it's opened up, it's spoiled. It's no longer good. We can offer them an opportunity to expedite their shipments, get out in a very quick period of time, and ultimately provide a better product in the long term," said the port director.
Besides the fruit exporter, he also met with companies that ship steel and aluminum, along with wood products from Brazil.
Daniels says an important part of prospecting for future port business includes building relationships. He had an interesting and productive meeting with the executive director of the Port of Rio de Janeiro.
"They're looking at expanding their export operations. They're looking at developing formal relationships with gulf ports," said Director Daniels.
It's not just about selling prospects on the port of the future.
"While they're looking at long term business development options and growth options, they were very interested in the fact that we're able to accommodate many of their cargos, right now," said Daniels.
He had 22 meetings during the nine day trade mission.
"If we don't get in front of them, they're not going to know we're here," said the port director.
Governor Phil Bryant was also a part of last week's economic development trip to South America. The Mississippi Development Authority helped organize the trade mission.