North Bay gets OK for first fresh figs from Peru

Months after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved imports of Peruvian pomegranates and figs, Traverse City, Mich.-based North Bay Produce Inc. announced the agency is allowing it to receive its first shipments of Peruvian figs.

The product is coming from Lima-based North Bay Produce shareholder Agricola Athos. Currently, Agricola Athos is exporting fresh figs to Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, Asia and the Middle East.

"North Bay and Agricola Athos have been working on this program for more than 20 years, and we are very proud that North Bay is the first importer of Peruvian figs," North Bay president Mark Girardin said in a news release. "

The black mission variety figs will be shipped by air and trucked to Gateway America in Gulfport, Miss., for irradiation. The fruit then will be shipped to distribution warehouses direct or to North Bay Produce's mid-America facility in Mascoutah, Ill., and shipped out depending on customer logistics. The fresh figs will be offered in clamshells and bulk tray packs.

The product will be available from January through May, the company said.

In August 2016, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said Peruvian pomegranates and figs may be exported to the U.S. if they ship in commercial consignments and are subjected to measures to mitigate the spread of plant pests.

Pest mitigation protocols for Peruvian pomegranates and figs will include irradiation, inspections and a phytosanitary certificate from Peru's national plant protection organization.

Fig exports should exceed 5,000 tons, worth more than $15 million, according to Peruvian government estimates.