Port Manatee Boasts Record Start to Fiscal Year



Whether it was aluminum from Argentina or lumber from Brazil, the crates and containers continued moving for the last six months at Port Manatee. In fact, the October-March period proved to be the busiest start for a fiscal year in the Palmetto port’s history.

Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras credits improvements made over the decade and the attraction of a number of major logistics players to the area.

“We have reconfigured infrastructure to accommodate additional cargo, and we have aggressively marketed the infrastructure and facilities,” he says.

That’s borne fruit—and along with vegetables and minerals.

Containerized cargo jumped to more than 25,000 containers of goods moving through the docks. That’s up 34 percent compared to the first half of last fiscal year. Containerized cargo tons went up even more, up 36 percent from last year to upward of 262,000 tons.

The port saw a short tons increase of 14 percent, to more than 5.1 million. And more than 1.2 million in dry bulk cargo tons in imports and exports went through Port Manatee, a leap of 32 percent. Liquid bulk cargo jumped 11 percent, to more than 3.4 million tons.

“As we approach 2020 and the 50-year anniversary of Port Manatee operations, we are clearly on course for continuing record productivity and prosperity,” says Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, Port Authority chair.

Port officials attribute much of the growth to the doubling of juice volumes coming in special containers to the port. Buqueras refers to orange juice imported as “liquid gold,” and, along with aluminum, that commodity remains one of the port’s most valuable imports. Much of the juice comes via Mexico services through World Direct Shipping, which is based at the port. The supply helps supplement Tropicana’s needs; Buqueras says domestic citrus can’t fulfill the appetite of American orange juice consumers.

As America renegotiates a trade agreement with Mexico, Buqueras won’t speculate much on impacts. But he says it’s truly market forces driving traffic. Also, most trade with Mexico happens over the land border, and the port relies more of traffic from Central and South America. Europe also makes up a significant portion of import and export business.

“I would surmise unless trade is shut down totally, this cargo will continue to flow and increase,” he says.

Photo courtesy Port Manatee: Specialized juice-carrying containers join other cargo containers and trailers at a busy dockside yard at Port Manatee, which has set numerous records in the first half of its fiscal year.

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