Wilmington port sets record for refrigerated container volume

A utility vehicle transports a refrigerated container at the Port of Wilmington recently. The N.C. State Ports Authority announced the port broke a record in April for refrigerated container volume. (Contributed photo)

WILMINGTON — The North Carolina State Ports Authority set a new record for refrigerated container volume in April.

According to a Wednesday release, North Carolina Ports moved 1,459 refrigerated containers – 2,918 20-foot equivalent units – through the Port of Wilmington during the month of April.

“It has long been North Carolina Ports’ goal to become one of the premier cold ports for shippers and these numbers are evidence of that mission,” Executive Director of N.C. Ports Paul Cozza said in the release. “Additionally, our record-setting April highlights our expanding perishables portfolio as we have quadrupled refrigerated container volume over the last five years.”

N.C. Ports says it continues to experience a healthy flow of refrigerated cargoes to global markets despite the recent volatility due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Fiscal year 2020 volumes are up 20% over fiscal year 2019, and annual growth from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2019 is up more than 225%. Pork and poultry products continue to be the leading export, while bananas are the largest refrigerated import cargo.

“While there is still much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we continue to see growth in both import and export demand through the Port of Wilmington,” N.C. Ports Chief Commercial Officer Hans Bean said. “To support this growth, we are making the necessary investments to improve and expand our capabilities which in turn will benefit the North Carolina agriculture industry, the state’s grocery sector and additional cold chain users.

“As we continue to make progress in optimizing complementary export and import flows, there is a great opportunity to deliver more value for stakeholders across the entire supply chain,” he continued.

This latest accomplishment comes on the heels of the opening of a new refrigerated container yard last month. The $14 million project increased the number of on-terminal refrigerated container plugs from 235 to 775 with the ability to expand to more than 1,000 plugs through phase two of the project.

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