Containerized cargo trade is soaring to record heights at Port Manatee, including via new-generation containerships being deployed by Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc

PALMETTO, Florida – Port Manatee’s vibrant containerized cargo trade keeps soaring to record heights, with the number of container units crossing port docks in the six months ended March 31 rising nearly 74 percent over the comparable year-earlier period.

An all-time-high 67,675 twenty-foot-equivalent container units moved through Port Manatee during the first half of the port’s current fiscal year, up 73.7 percent over the prior first-half record of 38,954 TEUs, established in the six months ended March 31, 2020.

“Rapidly escalating volumes of both of Port Manatee’s primary containerized cargo carriers – World Direct Shipping and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. – are propelling the unprecedented activity,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director. “Port Manatee is clearly on pace to shatter its full-fiscal-year record of 88,466 TEUs, set in the 12-month period ended Sept. 30, 2020.”

Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping continues to augment its service offerings, now in its eight year of importing produce and other goods from Mexico, while Fresh Del Monte Produce, which has been bringing Latin American fruit to its Southeast distribution center at the port since 1989, is now deploying new-generation, energy-efficient containerships.

In its recently completed first fiscal half, Port Manatee also reached a new pinnacle in containerized cargo tons handled, with the 499,716 short tons of containerized loads moved in the past six months up 56.6 percent over the previous record of 319,096 short tons handled in the first half of fiscal 2020.

Total short tons of cargo moving through Port Manatee in the first half of fiscal 2021 reached 4,859,490, up 6.5 percent from a year earlier. The overall increase was mainly driven by the containerized cargo boom, as well as a 24 percent rise in dry bulk tons handled, to 1,088,328 short tons. General cargo throughput, led by big gains in lumber and wood pulp imports, rose 10.7 percent, to 261,969 short tons.

“Port Manatee’s record activity demonstrates its continuing advancement as Central and Southwest Florida’s preferred gateway for global commerce,” said Reggie Bellamy, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority. “Not only is the port capably fulfilling escalating demands of consumers and industry, but it also is adding to its already-impressive contributions to the region’s socioeconomic well-being.”

Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, all without benefit of local property tax support.

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