Florida News: Port Manatee Getting New Business; Produce Damage from Hurricane

Florida News:  Port Manatee Getting New Business; Produce Damage from Hurricane

AIncreased shipments from Mexico with ocean carrier World Direct Shipping is coming to Port Manatee in Central Florida with addition of another weekly stop to the port.  At the same time, damage estimates to Florida produce are coming from the state.

 World Direct Shipping has announced the increase in service to the port by the company, which was first established in 2014.  Ships depart from the north-central part of Veracruz, from Port Tuxpan, in a service starting January 12th.

“We couldn’t be happier with how the initial service has thrived, with our 2 ½-day transit time offering the fastest short-sea connection between Mexico and the U.S. Southeast, Northeast and Midwest for refrigerated produce and other cargos,” said Carlos Diaz, director of Palmetto, Fla.-based World Direct Shipping, in a news release.

The new service complements the other World Direct Shipping arrival at the port, starting from Coatzacoalcos, Diaz said. Tuxpan is the closest commercial port to Mexico City, providing for more opportunities for fruit exports.

The weekly schedules call for Friday departures and Monday arrivals for the new service.  Currently, ships leave Coatzacoalcos on Saturday and arrive at Port Manatee on Tuesdays.

Florida vs. Hurricane Irma

While Florida isn’t exactly a mecca for produce loads during the fall and winter, there are going to be less opportunities than ever in the coming months as the state works to recover from the damages resulting from Hurricane Irma.

The early assessment of total damages to agricultural production in the state is $2.5 billion.

Over 420,000 acres of citrus production were hit, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Losses were heaviest in Collier and Hendry counties, which estimated losses at $2,500 an acre for about 94,000 acres. Eleven other counties projected losses of $1,750 per acre for about 254,000 acres, and Polk and Martin counties estimated damages at $1,100 per acre for about 72,000 acres.

Many trees were just a few weeks from harvest when the storm hit.

Along with fruit loss and infrastructure damage, growers are worried over trees dying due to flooding, which is not included in this initial estimate.

Florida citrus sales still hover near $1 billion, despite the downturn in the last decade due to citrus greening disease.

Damage to the other fruit and vegetable crops in Florida, were found on over 163,000 acres.

Because the planting season was just beginning for most vegetables, the crop losses will result in shorter seasons, market distortions and lower yields because of the storm diluting the pesticides that had been applied to fields.