Port Manatee (Fla.) is smashing records for container volume and overall cargo tonnage, and is crediting fresh fruit shipments from Central America and Mexico.
At the end of September, the central Florida port tallied a 52% increase from the previous record set in fiscal year 2016, with 39,726 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), compared to 26,210 TEUs the prior year.
The port reported the numbers on Oct. 10, days after announcing a new agreement with ocean carrier World Direct Shipping which is adding a weekly service originating at Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico in January. Those ships are expected to include fruit from Mexico, according to a news release.
Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said increased container arrivals can be attributed to Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., which is switching from breakbulk shipping to containers for bananas and pineapples from Central America. World Direct Shipping, which began its service to Port Manatee in 2014, is also bringing in refrigerated from Mexico.
With that added service, next fiscal year’s numbers will likely break records again.
“As one of the nation’s fastest-growing container ports, Port Manatee not only is proving to be an integral player in the supply chain but also is continuing to increase its significant contributions to the economic vitality of our region,” Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, said in the release.
Cargo tonnage at Port Manatee was 7.81 million tons in the most recent fiscal year, about 13% over the previous year, and just over the previous record of 7.74 million tons in 2010, according to the release.