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Cool Cargoes October 2015

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COOL CARGOES 10 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE OCTOBER 2015 When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the South Carolina Ports Author- ity that it was recommending a dredging project that would take the harbor chan- nel to 52 feet and the entrance channel to 54 feet, while also enlarging turning basins to accommodate post-Panamax vessels calling at the SCPA's two con- tainer terminals, it validated logistics and cold storage interests who are investing heavily in Charleston. It also solidified the Southeast, espe- cially Charleston and Savannah, as one of the fastest-growing reefer markets in the nation. In the past year, New Orleans Cold Storage announced plans to expand its presence in the Charleston area, while AGRO Merchants Group and Lineage Logistics also plan to open cold storage and blast freezing facilities in Charleston. But refrigerated cargo was a rapidly growing business for the port long before the ink dried on the recent company an- nouncements. Much of that growth oc- curred as a result of growing exports of poultry and agriculture products. Refrig- erated cargo volumes passing through the SCPA's gates increased 35 percent between 2011 and 2014, according to the authority. In Georgia, meanwhile, the Port of Savannah this year approved a $5.85 million project to add 20 new re- frigerated container racks to its Garden City Terminal, each of which will accom- modate up to 24 refrigerated containers. Once completed, the project will provide 28 percent more space for refrigerated cargo at the terminal, creating a total of 2,496 slots. The terminal also has 600 chassis plug-ins, meaning by the proj- ect's end date, Savannah will have room for 3,096 reefer boxes. Since 2012, three private companies also have made substantial investments in Savannah's cold storage market. The first was Nordic Cold Storage, which in- vested $30 million in a 200,000-square- foot facility, and then expanded it the following year, largely on the strength of Georgia's booming poultry industry. "Savannah is the biggest port for ex- ports of refrigerated products in the country," Nordic President and CEO Don Schoenl said at the time. "What we hope is that we are going to balance that with being the busiest refrigerated container port for imports on the East Coast." Shortly after, Gulf States Cold Storage opened a 100,000-square-foot cold stor- age facility capable of blast freezing up to 4 million pounds of cargo a week. As a result of these additions, the com- pound annual growth rate for reefer im- ports and exports through Savannah was 5.6 percent. In 2014 alone, the port handled 35,642 TEUs of reefer imports — a 24 percent year-over-year increase — while it exported just less than 100,000 reefer boxes, a 3 percent increase. Trident Seafoods, one of the nation's largest seafood companies, recently said it will begin receiving reefer cargo from Savannah at its new $40 million production and distribution center in Carrollton, Georgia. The new plant, lo- cated about 285 miles from the port, is the Seattle-based business's first facility on the East Coast. Once completed, the new facility will have the capacity to pro- cess 50,000 tons of products annually for sale across the U.S. "This additional infrastructure will strengthen Savannah's position as the premier East Coast facility for refrigerated exports," GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz said in a statement. "Increased on- and off- terminal capacity gives customers more options for moving refrigerated commodi- ties to and from international markets." In Charleston, both container terminals — Wando Welch and North Charleston — offer refrigerated cargo handling ca- pabilities. The North Charleston Terminal has 380 plugs, and with the addition of 132 new plugs this fiscal year, soon will have a total of 512 plugs. The Wando Welch Terminal has 1,028 plugs, and the SCPA is adding four new reefer racks and 96 additional plugs, for a total of 1,124 plugs. Similar additions are expected in the next fiscal year as well. AGRO Merchants Group has complet- ed a sub-lease on a 121,000-square-foot temperature-controlled facility in Charles- ton, and is investing $8 million in facility improvements, while Lineage Logistics this past July broke ground on what it says will be a state-of-the-art cold storage distribution facility. The 340,000-square- foot facility also will have rail service pro- vided by Norfolk Southern. CC Contact Dan McCue at "THIS ADDITIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE WILL STRENGTHEN SAVANNAH'S POSITION AS THE PREMIER EAST COAST FACILITY FOR REFRIGERATED EXPORTS." By Dan McCue SAVANNAH, CHARLESTON BUILD UP COLD CHAIN

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