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  December 28th, 2016 | Written by

First In-Port Cold Storage Facility In North Carolina

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  • Cold Storage at Port of Wilmington helps North Carolina farmers grow export.
  • Agriculture is the #1 industry in North Carolina.
  • Opening of Port of Wilmington Cold Storage is expected to boost North Carolina agricultural exports.

The temperatures inside Port of Wilmington Cold Storage (PWCS) may be below freezing, but the demand for cold storage in North Carolina is red hot. PWCS is a new, 101,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse used to maintain specific temperatures for the storage of perishable goods, such as fruits, vegetables and proteins.

The warehouse is located within the gates at the Port of Wilmington and is not only the first in-port cold storage facility in North Carolina, but one of a select few such facilities in the entire nation.

Cold storage facilities allow companies to distribute their perishable goods locally, nationally, and globally. According to industry analysts, 88 percent of the demand for refrigerated storage is from the food industry, with the remaining 12 percent consumed mainly by pharmaceutical, floral and fur producers that require temperature-controlled storage. Pharmaceutical companies, in particular, are expected to increase their demand for cold storage as they increase production of temperature controlled vaccines and biologic drugs for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Type 2 diabetes.

The Port of Wilmington is a major hub for exporting refrigerated and frozen pork and poultry products and other perishable goods, but prior to PWCS, it did not have a cold storage facility, causing North Carolina to lose valuable business. Exporters of perishable goods were forced to look outside of North Carolina for ports with a cold storage facility within or near it gates, such as those found in neighboring states to the north and south. PWCS is expected to provide area food processors with a more affordable way to grow their export business.

“Agriculture is an $84 billion industry for North Carolina and the #1 industry in the state,” said Chuck McCarthy, President and CEO of PWCS. “And the demand for U.S. meats and vegetables abroad is very high, particularly in Asia. We anticipate that PWCS is going to allow North Carolina producers and processors to significantly grow their export business by providing them with a more cost-effective alternative to trucking their products to out-of-state ports. And we also hope that local growers who may have thought export was out of their reach will consider working with us to help them grow their market overseas.”

Hanjin Shipping of South Korea had historically provided shipping services from Wilmington to Asia, but the line declared bankruptcy in August of this year. Fortunately, Maersk Line, already a major player at the Port of Wilmington, quickly stepped in and announced the addition of a westbound service, offering direct shipping from Wilmington to Asia, effective October 8, 2016.

“With PWCS, we can now compete with neighboring states to attract more agricultural exports to the Port of Wilmington,” said Robert Hosford Assistant Director, Foreign Direct Investment, North Carolina Department of Agriculture. “The demand for chicken overseas is particularly high and we anticipate that PWCS will allow NC poultry farmers to significantly grow their export business to Asia. The demand for frozen sweet potato fries is also expanding in Europe, so we anticipate PWCS will likely see an influx of European bound sweet potatoes as well. The addition of a cold storage facility this close to the water is a huge advantage for NC agriculture and the food processing industry.”

PWCS is a joint venture of USA InvestCo, a Wilmington-based real estate development and investment firm, and the North Carolina State Ports Authority. The warehouse facility is wholly owned by USA InvestCo, but the property on which it is located is owned by the ports and leased to USA InvestCo. Total cost for the project was $17.5 million, which includes pre-development, construction and opening operating expenses.

“Customers and carriers seeking cost-effective and efficient solutions continue to find even greater resources available at North Carolina Ports”, said Paul J. Cozza, North Carolina Ports Executive Director. “The Port of Wilmington Cold Storage facility is a major part of our modernization plan, offering convenience, logistical support, expedited delivery times, and substantial savings for protein providers on transportation costs.”