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J&K Fresh Produce offers praise to CBP

By
Keith Loria

As a licensed customs brokerage company specializing in providing customs brokerage services to importers of fresh produce, J&K Produce appreciates all the amazing work that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has done during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“U.S. Customs response to COVID-19 has been great; they never really wavered and we originally thought going into this, it would be a big challenge, but as a customs broker, we saw very limited impact,” said John Ercolani, vice president of operations for J&K Fresh Produce.

“These guys on the front line made sure the fruit was cleared and the cargo was processed and everything was delivered on time.”

Working in Philadelphia, he explained the company’s team of experts work with the various government agencies assisting produce importers in navigating through the multi-layered clearance process. That includes CBP Border Security, Customs Entry, Agriculture Quarantine, and coordination with the inspection facilities and logistic providers.

“Obviously, there was a lot of uncertainty in the beginning about how CBP would respond and how they could continue their mission,” Ercolani said. “What we saw is the integrity of their mission and protecting our borders never wavered. We saw it strengthen through that time period and we didn’t see any hiccups with cargo moving.”

His praise also goes out to the Department of Homeland Security and all the federal agencies who worked so diligently though these challenging times. 

“Outside of the perishables, we had a lot of requests being a customs broker for how to get PPE equipment in,” Ercolani said.

“There were a lot of first-time importers trying to get that into the country, so U.S. Customs put together an initiative called the COVID-19 Cargo Resolution team, offering guidance on how to do it, properly get it in and alleviate those challenges.”

That made things easier for the company to operate and do its job effectively.

“We had the confidence to tell our importers that U.S. Customs and all these agencies are still operating and creating solutions, and we had confidence that they would continue to facilitate cargo,” Ercolani said. “As a company, we could share that confidence back with the trade.”

Business for J&K Fresh Produce in 2021 has started strong, with continued organic growth with its customer base.

“We are leveraging technology where we can to be innovative,” Ercolani said.

“We have a good majority of our staff back in the office. Fortunately, we were prepared to work from home in advance of COVID-19. We already had the technology that allowed us to do that, so we never skipped a beat.”

The company is preparing for another big summer citrus season coming up and is ready for what’s ahead.

“We’ve talked with our importers, and citrus was up a lot last year, and we expect it to be up again this year, and we’re ready,” Ercolani said. “We’re getting excited again and doing what we love to do.”

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June 18, 2021

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