The Port of Savannah has become the top port in the US for the export of containerised agricultural goods and a key driver of regional and national growth.
According to a statement, the port’s proximity to major producers, direct access via road and rail, broad global network and responsiveness to customer needs are the drivers behind its growth.
“Agriculture is a major driver for Georgia’s economy, contributing $74 billion in annual economic benefit and nearly 400,000 jobs across the state,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
“As this country’s No. 1 port for the export of agricultural products, Savannah provides vital support for the state and nation, helping our farmers reach overseas buyers efficiently.”
In 2019, agriculture accounted for 60% of Savannah’s exports, or more than 843,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units. Forest products such as wood pulp, paper and logs made up the largest category of goods, followed by clay, cotton, poultry and peanuts.
For the fiscal year to date (July 2019-May 2020), total loaded exports have increased by 15,500 twenty-foot equivalent container units to 1.33 million TEU.
“The production of raw material and agricultural goods, along with their supply chains, have remained strong throughout the pandemic,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.
“The powerful commitment by the agricultural sector mirrors that of GPA’s employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association and the rest of our maritime logistics community.”
During the pandemic, GPA has focused on ensuring both chassis and empty containers are available to support the movement of export commodities.
Through its association with the South Atlantic Chassis Pool II and the completion of a new on-terminal chassis yard, the Port of Savannah provides customers with access to the largest chassis pool in the Southeast.
In addition, GPA’s team has focused on cargo owners and other contacts to ensure a reliable supply of containers.
On-terminal projects to expand export capacity have continued throughout the crisis, including the Mason Mega Rail, with the first nine of 18 new working tracks complete and two new rail-mounted gantry cranes slated to begin work in July.
GPA’s inland terminal, the Appalachian Regional Port, has seen increased volumes and export commodities coming from Northwest Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. At the Port of Savannah, GPA has increased its on-time performance of vessel operations to achieve its best performance in three years.
“GPA’s laser focus on the seamless flow of export commodities and the impressive growth at the ARP have created new avenues for American farmers to serve international customers,” said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight.