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The Del Monte fruit company is now bringing all of its UK imports to Portsmouth.
Del Monte International GmbH recently signed an exclusive three year deal to use the city owned and operated, MMD (Shipping Services) Ltd facilities.
All of Del Monte's British bound bananas and pineapples from the Caribbean will now arrive in Portsmouth. MMD (Shipping Services) Ltd has spent the last six weeks refurbishing a dedicated warehouse solely for the use of Del Monte.
There's been a major redevelopment of the loading area to allow bananas to be put onto lorries undercover at exactly the right temperature. This keeps the fruit in perfect condition.
New racking and quality control measures have also been installed. The first ship to arrive is 'Star Pride' on Saturday 8th january 2010. Only a year old, the 163 metre long refrigerated cargo ship is one of the newest travelling between Europe and the Caribbean.
It is expected to spend around six hours in Portsmouth whilst it's cargo of bananas and pineapples are unloaded before starting the return trip to Costa Rica.
Saturday's arrival will be the first of hundreds of shipments, with an estimated 78,000 tonnes of Del Monte's fresh fruit due to arrive from Costa Rica every year.
Portsmouth Port is already recognised as a specialist in fruit importation. The new contract will increase the amount of fresh produce it handles each year by ten percent. Martin Putman, Port Manager, says "we're looking forward to welcoming Star Pride and her crew. The team at Portsmouth have worked hard to make sure everything is ready for this important new customer."
A dredging programme to deepen water levels will also give the companies' ships more flexibility on when they are able to arrive and leave the Port.
Portsmouth already imports 65% of the bananas eaten in the UK every year.