Food train poised to be ‘game changer’ for Indiana
By Sherry Bunting
INDIANAPOLIS – A new mode of transportation is poised to be a ‘game changer’ for Indiana, providing the ability to move fresh food products to the southeast and beyond; to engage resort buyers in the Caribbean, and Central and South America, as well as tapping the growth markets for dairy protein in the Pacific Rim.
In March 2014, a new “food train” will begin transporting refrigerated and frozen food products from Tampa, Florida to Northwest Indiana… and back again. Add to this the anticipated renovations to the Panama Canal enabling cargo to sail from eastern U.S. and Gulf ports to destinations in the Pacific, and the net result is a whole new world of marketing opportunities.
Indiana dairy farmers are well positioned for the future via the Green Express -- a new mile-long dedicated, high speed, non-stop, food train capable of transporting refrigerated and frozen dairy products direct from Kingsbury to Tampa. The new route stems from the 800-acre INland Logistics Port at Kingsbury, LaPorte County, connecting the Kingsbury Industrial Park to the CSX rail line just south of Chicago.
This is what the Indiana Department of Agriculture views as a potential “food campus” to be anchored by the new food train traveling nonstop to and from Tampa, with the Tampa destination positioned within 500 yards of port.
This trip takes 52 hours by truck and 56 hours by train; however, both Chicago and Tampa are “international trade zones,” so, once the food is on the non-stop Green Express, it is deemed exported and can be offloaded upon arrival without waiting the many days of administrative time and additional fees required for inspections.
“We’re connecting the pieces and combining the parts to help get their stuff up here and our stuff down there.” said Chris McGrath, a partner in the Chicago-based Providence Logistics, the owner and developer of the logistics park that will operate the Green Express. “We’re optimizing the supply chain to get product distributed faster and fresher, with less waste and less spoilage, while realizing savings in fuel costs as well as other downstream benefits.”
McGrath spoke during the Indiana Dairy Producers (IDP) annual Partners in Success Luncheon in the Farm Bureau building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Friday, October 25 in Indianapolis. He unveiled the current status and future plans for the Green Express, funded through the private investment of the Providence Logistics partners, along with LaPorte County’s investment in site improvements to the logistics park and CSX rail line.