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Seaports of the Delaware River a world food import leader

PHILADELPHIA — Collectively, the ports of the Delaware River handle more food cargo than any other seaport in the world.

These ports received fruit imports valued at $3.6 billion in 2018, according to a recent report released by PhilaPort. Refrigerated cargoes were up an astounding 5.35 percent in tonnage, which totaled 4.54 metric tons. Bananas accounted for 44 percent of that tonnage.PAMT

Last year the region’s port received $5 billion for all food products.

In 2018, meats accounted for 12 percent of the imported refrigerated food tonnage. Pineapples accounted for 11 percent and citrus and grape tonnage was equal at five percent. Melons were six percent and other refrigerated cargoes were 17 percent of the tonnage.

South America accounted for 45 percent of the refrigerated products imported into Delaware River ports in 2018. Oceania was 18 percent, followed by Central America at 17 percent. Northern Europe was 12 percent. Among other regions, the Mediterranean provided two percent of the ports’ volume, ranked by one percent from Africa.

PhilaPort noted that in 2019, new services are calling on the river from the Mediterranean and South Africa.

Between 2012 and 2018, PhilaPort saw an average increase of refrigerated cargo exceeding 11 percent. This rose from 88.46 TEUs in 2012 to 166.1 in 2018.

PhilaPort notes that there are 50 cold storage warehouses in close proximity to the ports of the Delaware River.

Delaware River channel dredging
By January 2020, the Delaware River channel dredging project will be complete. But this summer, the dredging of the channel to 45 feet is considered by PhilaPort to be 99.9 percent complete.

The $480 million dredging runs 103 miles from Cape May, NJ, to downtown Philadelphia.

Leo Holt, president of Holt Logistics, noted that “in general, the over-arching, long-term project that opens the river is the completion the dredging of the Delaware River.”

Holt noted in June, “there are a couple of geotechnical problems working out, but the Army Corp of Engineers promised to have that done. We already have access to deeper water, with cooperation of pilots of the bay and Delaware River. So, we’re getting ships we want to see so the shipping lines are getting access to the deeper water and the bigger cranes, and that’s a plus.”