Port Manatee has again broken multiple fiscal year cargo records, including topping 10 million tons of total annual throughput for the first time in its 50-year history and enjoying a year-over-year increase of nearly 50 percent in containerized cargo activity.
In its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the diverse Southwest Florida Gulf Coast port established new highs in total tonnage, containerized cargo units and tons and liquid and dry bulk tonnage, according to figures reported today [Tuesday, Oct. 15]. The recently ended 12-month period is the sixth consecutive fiscal year in which the port has set a new total cargo tonnage record.
“Port Manatee’s continuing outstanding record growth demonstrates that our diversified approach is succeeding in generating burgeoning volumes of trade while building upon remarkable contributions to the socioeconomic wellbeing of the region we serve,” said Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority.
The record 57,255 twenty-foot-equivalent units of containerized cargo moving across Port Manatee docks in fiscal 2019 was up 49.3 percent over the preceding 12-month span, while container tons rose more than 40 percent, to an all-time peak of 535,176. Contributing to the gains were increasing trade of Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping, which began cross-Gulf service with Mexico in late 2014, and sustained strong volumes for Del Monte Fresh Produce, which has been bringing bananas and pineapples from Latin America to Port Manatee for more than three decades.
Overall, Port Manatee cargo tonnage in the just-ended fiscal year reached a record 10,081,743, a 6.2 percent gain over fiscal 2018. The port’s largest sector, liquid bulk, including petroleum products and juice concentrates, saw a 5 percent boost, to a peak of 6,514,807 tons, while dry bulk tonnage was up 13.7 percent, to a record 2,239,965. Granite and limestone led the dry bulk surge, rising 28.9 percent to 824,199 tons.
“Port Manatee is privileged to continue to literally and figuratively fuel the Southwest Florida economy,” said Port Manatee’s executive director, Carlos Buqueras, who noted that most of the record 474,458,292 gallons of petroleum products moving through the port in fiscal 2019, up 12.5 percent from fiscal 2018, goes to supply gas stations throughout the region.
“Moreover, Port Manatee’s persistent broad-based growth is indicative of our ability to supportively serve the full spectrum of longtime customers while attracting vibrant new business as well,” Buqueras said.
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 port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 direct and indirect jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.