Port of Philadelphia’s First-Quarter Cargo Figures Indicate Continued Growth

All Major Cargo Categories Show Increases Compared to Same Period Last Year

Following on the heels of an excellent 2014, where the facilities of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority experienced their fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth, recently-compiled cargo figures for the first-quarter of this year indicate that an equally or even more impressive 2015 is a very strong likelihood for the Port of Philadelphia.

Further, in addition to overall cargo increases in broad categories such as containers, breakbulk, liquid bulk, etc., for the first time in recent history every major cargo category that the statistical process counts, which includes containers, steel, forest products, cocoa beans, project cargo, ro/ro, liquid bulk, and other/miscellaneous cargoes, all showed increases, with no exceptions.

“Our latest cargo figures are gratifying to see,” said PRPA Chairman Jerry Sweeney, who was appointed Chairman of the PRPA Board by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf earlier this year. “Not only do they once again show healthy gains when comparing the same periods of this year and last year, but they also show, for the first time in a long while, that all cargo sectors showed growth, not just some or even most.  This is truly a testament to our terminal operators, the logistics industry that surrounds them, our dedicated labor force, and our staff at PRPA, all of whom work together to make this port as efficient and successful as it can be.”

Containers showed healthy gains in the first quarter when counted either as TEU’s or tonnage.  100,203 TEU’s were handled during the first quarter of 2015 compared to the 97,922 TEU’s handled during the same period of 2014, a 2.33 percent gain. Counted as tonnage, 684,360 metric tons of containerized cargo was moved during January-March 2015 compared to the 646,621 metric tons moved during that same period of 2014, resulting in a 5.84 percent gain.

The across-the-board increases in all breakbulk cargo categories are as follows: steel was up 1.22 percent, with 105,398 metric tons handled; fruit was up 16.68 percent, with 66,390 tons handled; forest products were up 34.98 percent, with 162,879 tons handled; cocoa beans were up 18.98 percent, with 45,859 tons handled; project cargo was up 21.69 percent, with 11,380 tons handled, and other/miscellaneous cargoes were up 975.65 percent, with 2,076 metric tons handled.

In the ro/ro category, which is primarily made up of the Port’s automobile cargoes (principally Hyundai and Kia automobiles that arrive in South Philadelphia for ultimate distribution to dealerships throughout the U.S.), cargoes were up when counted either as individual units or tonnage. 36,683 automobiles were moved during the first quarter of this year, a 2.31 percent increase over the same period last year.  Counted as tonnage, 54,923 metric tons of automobiles were moved, a 10.58 percent increase.

In the liquid bulk category, the 338,748 metric tons of liquid bulk cargoes handled during the first quarter represented a 1.54 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

These current cargo increases, which continue a trend of growth that began over five years ago, are occurring during an exciting time for the Port of Philadelphia, as the Port’s 45-foot Main Channel Deepening project nears completion, and the PRPA Board of Directors is overseeing the advancement of the Port’s Southport Project, which will result in one or more major new maritime operations in South Philadelphia, the first entirely new operations added to the Port in more than a generation.

PHOTO CAPTION: A container vessel discharges cargo at the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, April 2015. Containers showed healthy gains at the Port of Philadelphia during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. Photograph by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority’s Amanda Prinski.