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Fresh produce rolling out of State Port

GULFPORT — The coolers at Gulf Coast International Cargo are stacked high with thousands of cases of melons from Central America.

The melons are moving through Gulfport on its way to Christmas dinner tables across America.

WLOX-TV reports it’s a perishable food “dream come true” for Mike Alise and his company.

“A lot of this stuff is going to be going out between now and Christmas. To get it to the retail stores. That way the consumers can get the food they need for the holidays,” Alise said this past week.

Truck traffic at the cargo facility at Gulfport-Biloxi international Airport is another certain sign of its success. Eighteen-wheelers were lined up at the cargo doors, ready to haul cantaloupes and baby watermelons across the country.

“It’s great for the consumer. Great for the State of Mississippi. Great for Gulfport, Biloxi, the whole entire coast. We’re sitting on the number two banana port in the country with all the bananas coming in. Now it’s time to bring in some other fruits to help complement that,” said Alise.

Alise says his facility had to pass a rigid inspection process to be accepted by the heavyweight retail giants like Wal-Mart and Costco, where much of this fresh produce is headed.

Alise said the next big expansion step for Gulf Coast International Cargo involves fresh flowers. He recently returned from Columbia, South America, where he’s brokering the flower imports.

“To bring 747s with about 8,000 boxes of flowers on each flight. And those flowers will be sent up to Memphis and Fed Ex will pick them up from there and distribute them throughout the United States,” Alise said.

With a little luck, he says the flower shipments can begin by Valentine’s Day.

After the flowers, Alise says he’s looking at importing fresh fish: salmon from Chile and tilapia from Ecuador.

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