N.C. Ports saw a record-setting month in April for refrigerated containers moving through the Port of Wilmington, according to a news release.
The North Carolina State Ports Authority, also known as N.C. Ports, reported moving more than 1,400 refrigerated containers – nearly 3,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) – through the Port of Wilmington in April.
N.C. Ports' previous record was in March 2019, when more than 1,300 refrigerated containers moved through the port, said Bethany Welch, the ports' spokeswoman.
The record comes the same month N.C. Ports completed its $14 million refrigerated container yard
project, which increased the port’s on-terminal refrigerated container plugs from 235 to 775, with the ability to expand to more than 1,000 plugs through the second phase of the project.
“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,” Paul Cozza, executive director of N.C. Ports, stated 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 continue to see refrigerated cargoes flow through the port, while global markets have been negatively impacted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For this fiscal year, up to the month of April (July-April), refrigerated container volumes are up 20% over the previous fiscal year, stated the release.
Pork and poultry products are the port's leading export,and bananas are the largest refrigerated import cargo, stated the release.
“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,” said Hans Bean, N.C. Port's chief commercial officer, in the release. “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,” Bean said.
N.C. Ports, in its $221 million capital improvement plan, has added new cranes, improved its docks and expanded the turning basin to allow for larger ships to come through the Port of Wilmington. The new refrigerated container yard was also in that plan.
Next week, N.C. Ports is expecting its first 14,000 TEU ship, the MV Hyundai Hope, which would be the largest ship to pass through the Wilmington port and is one of the largest ships docking at ports along the East Coast, according to N.C. Ports.