November, 2020

Post Archives

Spotlight Series: Alexander Grabois of ProChile Philadelphia

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Alexander Grabois
Trade Representative, ProChile Philadelphia


CACC: Why is this new Philadelphia commercial office important to ProChile?

Alexander Grabois (A.G.): Greater Philadelphia has long been a key market for Chile and an important trade partner; primarily due to the area being the main port of entry for Chilean fruits for the East Coast. However, in recent years, like Philadelphia, Chile has made important strides and efforts to increase the visibility of trade of value-added products and services. This allows for Chile to continue its mission of promoting exports while also highlighting the diversity, quality and innovative nature of our companies, across all sectors.

In the past, ProChile had been covered remotely, from our Washington DC office, for which being physically present in Philadelphia will make a great difference in providing continuity and support to Philadelphia area companies.

CACC: What are some projects or initiatives you are looking forward to working on in Philadelphia?

A.G.: Among a great list of priorities and plans, it is certainly a top priority to continue our work within the fresh fruit industry and maintain Chile´s presence in the market. ProChile is the primary contact for any trade needs, for which I am looking forward to working directly with everybody on these matters and furthering efforts to benefit the bilateral economic relationship of Chile and Greater Philadelphia.

In November 2019, ProChile was fortunate enough to work on and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the CACC and the City of Philadelphia, which aims to further strengthen the relationship between Chile and Philadelphia, while also focusing on promoting Philadelphia as a destination for Chilean IT providers. It will be very exciting to continue this work and grow the reach of this agreement so that we can expand and diversify efforts to further promote Greater Philadelphia as a key market for Chile and to promote all that Chile has to offer.

As is the case with most agencies and companies around the world, ProChile has needed to innovate and adapt to the new norm as a result of COVID-19. This has led for our institution to transition to virtual events and initiatives. An example of this is the inaugural version of “ChileConnected, Get Closer to the Source”, a fully virtual B2B matchmaking event that runs from October 19-November 20, with sector specific panels and matchmaking opportunities with Chilean producers of healthy food and beverages, technology and innovation, and creative industries.

CACC: What makes the CACC a valuable partner to you in your role at ProChile?

A.G.: The CACC has been an important ally for our organization, particularly due to their proactivity and constant willingness to work with us and for the greater mission of benefitting relationships between Chile and Greater Philadelphia. We are very excited to continue to work closely with the Chamber and its members in furthering the presence of Chile in the region and building upon the existing partnership and collaboration.

CACC: What is one thing you would like the CACC Network to know about Chile?

A.G.: While Chile has gained positive recognition due to our wines and fruits, I would also like to introduce CACC members and the Greater Philadelphia region to the diversity of what Chile can offer to the US market. Among other products, I can highlight important strides made in the production of food and beverage products that incorporate innovation and technologies, which help meet the sophisticated demands of the US consumers. An example of innovation in the food and beverage sector is NotCo, which produces a line of vegetable-based products, while using an algorithm that can replicate recognizable flavors in healthier formats. Chile has also used innovation and technology as a tool to help solve global issues, a key success case being GenoSur, who provides portable and easy to use COVID-19 tests, and Cornershop, an e-commerce app that allows users to purchase products from a group of affiliated stores and have the products delivered to their doorsteps. All three of the aforementioned companies have been success cases in terms of their US market entry and ability to raise capital in the US; and continually work to expand their presence in the United States. We have so much to offer to consumers and buyers and it is a key aspect of my role to promote these innovative products. I am very much looking forward to speaking and discussing more about Chile and its diverse economy.

Sending our thanks and best wishes to Alexander for his move to Philadelphia!

Spotlight Series: Joe Fox of Philaport

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Joe Fox, Marketing Manager, PhilaPort 


CACC: How did you start in Chilean produce imports? 

Joe Fox (J.F.): I actually saw a help wanted ad in the newspaper. Starting in the Fall of ’91 at Unifrutti (now Tastyfrutti), I oversaw both the East and West Coast ports as an operations supervisor. This involved managing the terminal port of discharge, fumigation, USDA inspections, quality control, distribution warehousing, and trucking distribution. During this time, I worked with a lot of the growers and agronomists in Chile and learned the technical aspects of the produce business. Back then, CSAV Lines was calling the Tioga Marine Terminal, and working with them also taught me about the ocean transport side of fruit imports.

CACC: What did your work at Hamburg Sud teach you about trade with Chile? 

J.F.: When I started there in ’97, the company was still known as Columbus Line. I worked for Victor Federici, Steve George, and John Dolan, who all taught me a lot about the container liner industry. I was there as the business was switching from breakbulk to containers. It was a time of real growth for the West Coast of South America trades. I got to meet many of the importers; people I shared space with on the docks. Working with them on logistics issues, we became close personally and professionally.

CACC: As a PhilaPort Marketing Manager, how do you effect trade between the Port and Chile?

J.F.: My experience from these previous jobs, plus my network of contacts, allow me to support Chile’s trade with Philadelphia. Here in the Marketing Department, we communicate regularly with Chilean growers, US importers, and the ocean carriers. We provide information to everyone in the supply chain, including the freight forwarders, warehouse companies and truckers. We give them market overviews, presentations, statistics, marketing materials, advice, and contacts. We recently spoke with agriculture officials from the Chilean Embassy in Washington, DC about the latest trade developments in Chile and Philadelphia. We maintain our relationships with the growers during PMA and other produce industry events. Over the years I have come to really care about Chile and its people, so it is good to help build bridges between the two cultures.

CACC: How does the CACC support your work, and the mission of PhilaPort?

J.F.: The mission of the Chamber fits well with one of our main goals at the Port:  to grow trade between Chile and Philadelphia. CACC brings all the key players together to network and knowledge share. The Chamber is an important voice of the industry as we fight protectionism and communicate with regulators. It lets us know important trends in the trade. And it holds some wonderful events so everyone can get to know each other. PhilaPort is investing a lot of money in infrastructure, and that will help grow trade with Chile, so this is an exciting time for the Chile – Philadelphia relationship. The Chamber is an essential element of that relationship.

The Delaware River is already dominant for Chilean produce imports.  Going forward, I would also like to work with the Chamber to grow our trade in forest products, seafood, metals, and more.

Thank you to Joe and PhilaPort Marketing for participating in this edition of the CACC Spotlight Series!

Spotlight Series: Terry DePietro of William H. Kopke, Jr. and KDC

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Terry DePietro
Director of Pier Operations, William H. Kopke, Jr. Inc. and KDC


CACC: How did you start your career in the fresh fruit industry? Did you always envision yourself working in this field?

Terry DePietro (T.D.): I began my career in late November 1982, when Wm. H. Kopke, Jr., Inc. affectionally known as ‘Kopke,’ promoted Paul Wigand to Director of Operations in the Corporate office headquartered in New York. I was one of three people hired to fill Paul’s huge shoes at the Ports of Philadelphia. My sister, who worked for Hillcrest Sales, a Chilean fruit importer, told me about Kopke’s opening. I applied for the position, and 38 years later, the rest is history.

So many memories, I recall a late-night working at Holt Terminal: a beloved food truck arrived, with 15 of us standing in line – I was thinking, “if someone had told me that I would one day be standing in line with a bunch of longshoremen underneath the Walt Whitman Bridge on the Jersey side at 10 p.m. I would have said they were crazy”. I never saw it coming, but I have loved every minute of it.

CACC: How does Kopke support Chilean trade?

T.D.: Up until this past October, Peter Kopke Sr. and Paul Wigand traveled together to Chile every year, meeting with the shippers and growers at the farms and packing houses to support and share valuable trade information. In addition to building strong, successful business relationships between Kopke and numerous Chilean fruit exporters, true friendships were formed over the years. With the need for more warehouse space and a considerable demand for repacking and precooling precious commodities, Kopke decided it was time to build their own warehouse.

The warehouse known as KDC (Kopke Distribution Center) is in Vineland, N.J. KDC’s president, Michael Meyers, worked closely with builders and industry leaders to ensure the Facility met all the needs of the grower’s precious commodities. Michael proudly opened the doors to the new Facility in December 2019. The building is over 165,000 thousand square feet, has 29 loading dock doors, over 6 thousand pallet positions, and four state-of-the-art precoolers, each with the capability to rapidly cool 25 pallets at a time.

CACC: What is your favorite part of working within the maritime trade industry?

T.D.: I love the passion for this business that I see in every person who returns for each new Chilean fruit season that makes this Industry unlike no other. I have always said when someone new comes into the fruit business, they are going to hate to it & leave asap, or they are going to love it and stay forever. The passion that everyone brings to the fruit industry is what makes it so successful. For those who choose to stay in the business, the word ‘passion’ is synonymous with the Chilean fruit industry. You not only remember the words that have been spoken in meetings, awards luncheons and dinners by the many pioneers of our industry, but you can reflect on their “hands on” approach which led the way for others. Observing Peter Kopke Sr. at the piers inspecting the fruit after fumigation in freezing weather vessel after vessel spoke volumes about his dedication to the business. To see Andy Economou at Tioga Marine Terminal on many a late night in the trenches with his team. Tom Holt Sr. for his vision and dedication to the Industry, along with many others, I thank them all for, without them, I would not have had the tremendous opportunities that have been presented to me.

CACC: Who have been the most influential people during your years on the waterfront?

T.D.: Peter Kopke Sr. for his extensive knowledge of the fruit industry.

Paul Wigand for his unwavering loyalty to our company and constant consideration for the little guy. Paul Wigand worked alongside Peter Kopke Sr. from February 1977 until his passing on October 17th, 2020.

Capt. H. Hickman Rowland Jr. president and owner of Wilmington Tug until his untimely death in 2017 for his kindness and generosity to all.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

T.D.: The CACC is a critical organization for our industry. Having been honored with a position as a Board Member for the CACC in 2019 was incredibly special for me. Having an organization such as the CACC available to help anyone who is interested in doing business between our two countries is a continued commitment to the future of our trade together.

Many thanks to Terry for participating in this week’s Spotlight Series!

2020 Annual Fresh Fruit Workshop

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Join colleagues, port representatives, and government officials on December 2nd from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM EST to participate in an interactive experience reviewing the trade, technical, legal, regulatory and business issues affecting the import of Chilean fresh fruit into the Delaware Valley Region.

December 2, 2020
11:00 AM-12:30 PM EST
CACC Members: Free
CACC Non- Members: $25


The CACC needs your support. Below are Sponsorship Opportunities Available:

Premier Sponsor – $5,000
-Includes opportunity to speak during program and logo placement on all event materials

Signature Sponsor – $3,500
-Includes logo placement on all event materials

Supporting Sponsor – $1,000
-Includes logo placement on all event materials

For more information, please contact Christina Lista at [email protected].


Confirmed Speakers to-date: 

Welcoming Remarks:

Joseph Martella
Port Director, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Guest Speaker:

Andrés Rodriguez
Agricultural Attaché, Embassy of Chile


John Ercolani
Vice President, J&K Fresh East


Dennis Rochford
President, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay

Ed Fitzgerald
Senior Director of Trade Services, GEODIS USA, Inc.

Bruce Hildreth
Officer in Charge- Philadelphia, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service – Specialty Crops Inspection Division

Elliot Ortiz
Chief Agriculture Specialist, Area Port of Philadelphia, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Evan Moss
Senior Director, Perishables, J&K Fresh East

Robert Verrico
Service Manager, Western Fumigation

William Spence
Officer in Charge, USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Agency – Plant Protection & Quarantine