Philadelphia Container Volume Jumps 18 Percent

Philadelphia Container Volume Jumps 18 Percent

Container throughput at terminals in the Port of Philadelphia increased 18 percent in 2010 to 264,059 20-foot equivalent units, compared to the 222,900 TEUs handled in 2009, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority reported Friday.

The port handled 1.86 million metric tons of containers in 2010, compared to the 1.68 million tons of containers handled in 2009, an 11 percent gain.

Non-containerized cargoes also showed big increases. With 1.11 million metric tons of non-containerized cargoes handled in 2010 compared to the 0.84 million tons of handled the year before, these cargoes were up 32 percent.

PRPA Executive Director James T. McDermott Jr. attributed the increases in the Delaware River port's volume to the recovering national economy and to three specific pieces of new business. "Hyundai and Kia made Philadelphia its preferred U.S. East Coast port of entry, Sea Star Line established a major Puerto Rican service here, and M-real, a past port customer, returned to the Port of Philadelphia with its high-quality paper cargoes," he said.

McDermott said last year's legal decision to allow deepening the Delaware River to 45 feet to go ahead and progress toward building the new Southport marine terminal had "directly or indirectly helped our cargo increases last year."

As a result of the new business from Hyundai and Kia, the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal handled 69,000 auto units in 2010, compared to virtually nil the year before.

The return of Scandinavian paper manufacturer M-real with its preferred ocean carrier, Wagenborg Shipping, brought a 53 percent gain in forest products cargoes at the port in 2010. It handled 389,109 tons of forest products, compared to the 254,522 tons handled in 2009. In addition to the rolls of high-quality paper, forest products cargoes at the port include pulp, lumber, and other wood products.

The PRPA opened a new forest products warehouse at the Pier 74 portion of the Forest Products Distribution Center at Delaware and Snyder Avenues in South Philadelphia last year, which it said was a major reason M-real's paper cargoes returned to Philadelphia.

The port is a major gateway for imports of fresh fruit from the Caribbean, Central and South America. With 328,904 metric tons of fruit being handled at the Port of Philadelphia in 2010 compared to the 321,702 tons handled the previous year, fruit was up 2 percent. Fruit from Chile and bananas from Colombia are two of the major fruit cargoes regularly handled at the Port.

Liquid bulk cargoes were up 16 percent, with 676,493 metric tons of liquid bulk cargoes being handled in 2010 compared 583,835 tons handled in 2009.

While steel cargoes continue to be modest compared to 1980s and 1990s levels, steel increased 53 percent last year, with 170,215 metric tons handled. Cocoa beans (97,492 tons handled) and project cargo (39,156 tons handled) were roughly in line with 2009 figures.

-- Contact Peter T. Leach at pleach@joc.com.