The Tampa (FL) Port Authority plans to construct a refrigerated warehouse, which apparently touched off a battle between another Tampa Bay port over which one would dominate the fruit importing business.
The TPA plans to invest $20.8 million in a cold storage and transload facility at the port of Tampa Bay.
The warehouse would mark the port’s return to the fruit importing business and is viewed as competition by neighboring Port Manatee in Palmetto, FL.
Port Manatee officials expressed concern that the other port would try to dominate fruit handling after the authority voted to authorize construction funding.
The port’s projects to deliver goods directly from ship to market and would include a 50-60 car capacity rail siding that could help the port better serve Midwest customers.
“Port Tampa Bay has the unmatched capacity to build unit trains,” a PTA spokesman said. “Part of the port’s overall growth strategy is to be able to serve shippers in the state of Florida with alternative, cost-efficient transportation solutions, so that they will not have to use out-of-state ports for their shipments.”
The port handles approximately 8 million tons of containerized cargo each year with tropical fruits and vegetables among its biggest items, according to port information.
The port’s 207,000 square feet of refrigerated space is used by Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., and Fresh Quest Produce Inc., in Plantation, Fla.
Responsible for handing nearly a third of all cargo moving in and out of Florida, the Tampa port port’s yearly 36 million net tons of volume is dominated by dry and liquid bulk items.
At 521,825 million net tons, general and containerized cargo accounts for less than 2% of its business.