Containerized cargo business at Port Manatee in Palmetto, FL has rose at a record pace, in part due to fruit imports.
The port posted a 55 percent increase as the fiscal year ended in September, with an all-time high of 88,466 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs). The previous fiscal year saw 57,239 TEUs, which was also a huge increase, at almost a 50 percent increase.
“With container throughput more than doubling over the course of just two years, Port Manatee is increasingly fulfilling regional consumer demands for goods ranging from fresh produce to appliances,” Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director, said in a news release. “As our dockside container yard expansion project advances toward mid-2021 completion, Port Manatee is positioning to continue to efficiently handle rapidly growing cargo volumes.”
The container yard expansion will nearly double the current 10-acre paved area.
The port’s container trade is being driven by growth of World Direct Shipping, which imports produce and other goods from Mexico since 2014, and Fresh Del Monte Produce Co., which has been importing fruit from Latin America for decades through the port.
Priscilla Whisenant Trace, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, said the port’s latest cargo cargo increases, happened as the port implemented enhanced health and safety measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We commend the men and women who are maintaining essential operations at Port Manatee, serving consumers of Southwest Florida and beyond,” she said in the release. “Sustained growth of Port Manatee’s container trade is a testament to success of our diverse strategy, with key infrastructure investments poised to facilitate even greater cargo activity and deliver still more positive socioeconomic impacts throughout our region.”