SC Ports Container Volume Surges 14 Percent
Container volumes increased 14 percent during the South Carolina Ports Authority’s 2015 fiscal year, building upon several previous years of above-market growth with strength across all business segments.
The SCPA handled 1.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) during the fiscal year that ended June 30, a jump of 231,473 TEUs from the 2014 fiscal year. June volumes provided a strong finish to fiscal year 2015 with 169,913 TEUs moved during the month.
Pier containers, or box volume, also climbed 14 percent in 2015 with 138,221 more boxes handled compared to FY2014. SCPA moved 96,916 boxes in June, pushing total fiscal year volume to 1.1 million containers.
“2015 was a memorable year for SC Ports Authority,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “We reached near-record levels of containerized cargo and saw strong volume and good diversification of the breakbulk sector.”
From an operations perspective, he added, “Highlights of this year include handling the highest ever month of pier containers in May and Inland Port rail moves in June, all while delivering high reliability and logistics efficiencies for our customers.”
Successful recruitment of discretionary cargo played a “key role in SCPA’s above-market growth,” he said.
“A competitive, broad-based rail market with ample capacity has made SCPA the port of choice for cargo produced beyond the Southeast region, including plastics from the U.S. Gulf and agricultural products from the Midwest,” said Newsome. “Volume gains of agricultural exports were also driven by local industries such as South Carolina-grown soybeans, whose export volume doubled during the last fiscal year.”
In particular, the Port of Charleston experienced significant growth in the volume of refrigerated cargo over the past four years with 45,500-plus ‘reefer boxes’ – a 35 percent increase over last year – moving through its facilities in 2014.
In a move to support a forecasted increase in refrigerated cargo, the SCPA has plans to install 292 additional rack-mounted electric receptacles at its Wando Welch and North Charleston cargo terminals over the next fiscal year. The rack-mounted receptacles allow shippers to plug-in climate-controlled cargo containers awaiting cartage to nearby cold storage facilities.
The state’s top refrigerated agricultural export last year was fresh and frozen poultry, with $206 million worth of goods shipped from Charleston to worldwide markets. Rounding out the top five cold cargoes handled at the port are fresh and frozen meats (other than poultry); grapefruit and lemons; pharmaceuticals; and “miscellaneous grocery products.”
According to media reports, the growth in refrigerated cargo has spurred the construction of nearly 560,000 square feet of new cold storage warehouse space in the Charleston region. Last September, the Agro Merchants Group opened a 121,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse near the port.
In addition, California-based Lineage Logistic scheduled to begin construction soon on a 340,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse at Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston and New Orleans Cold Storage adding 96,000 square feet of cold storage space at its 55,000-square-foot warehouse at the port.
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