The categories of perishable goods moving through South Florida include flowers, seafood, fruits and vegetables. Currently, more than 85% of inbound perishable air cargo to the US from Latin America lands in South Florida. Specifically, approximately 95% of flowers, 75% of seafood, 95% of vegetables, and 70% of fruit land at South Florida.
Several parties are involved in the logistics chain, but importers are ultimately responsible for driving perishable volume to a specific airport. The logistics chain operates as follows: (i) Latin American based perishable suppliers grow or catch their respective perishable commodity. (ii) US based importers purchase a specified quantity of the commodity and contract with air cargo carriers to ship the goods to South Florida. (iii) Upon landing at South Florida, the goods are unloaded by an airport ground handler and are inspected at the airport by USDA/CBP agents. In many cases the inspections occur at the warehouse facilities of the importer/logistics company. (iv) The perishable goods are then transported to importer owned warehouses or distribution centers where importers conduct value added services (e.g., putting flowers in bouquets), store inventory, and repackage inventory by end customer for distribution. (v) Wholesalers and retailers will then contract with a logistics provider to pick up the perishable goods and truck them to stores or distribution centers.
In some cases, importers contract with logistics operators to handle this process on their behalf. That is the case for the majority of importers. Therefore, despite a highly fragmented industry, a smaller number of core logistics operators and major importers handle most of the volumes.