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Cargo volume heating up in Philadelphia

After a double-digit gain in refrigerated container volume in the first quarter, the Port of Philadelphia is set to gain even more reefer traffic as a result of two new services to Latin America and possibly grab more U.S. East Coast market share.

Reefer container volume at Philadelphia, a hub for Latin American fruit exports, jumped 18 percent year-over-year to approximately 23,000 20-foot-equivalent units in the first three months of the year, while dry container volume declined 12 percent to 41,000 TEUs, according to PIERS, a sister product of within IHS Maritime & Trade. In 2014, reefer volume at the port inched up 2 percent year-over-year, while dry containerized volume rose 6 percent.

The port’s year-over-year reefer growth in 2015 will likely be far stronger, thanks to SeaLand adding a Philadelphia call to its weekly South American Express Service, and another weekly service — provided jointly by SeaLand and APL — set to call the port’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. The SAE service, scheduled to call the Packer Avenue terminal starting June 3, provides direct connections to Central America, while the joint North Atlantic Service will connect the U.S. East Coast to Cartagena, Colombia, and Manzanillo, Panama, starting late June. The vessel-sharing agreement between APL and SeaLand is subject to regulatory approval.

“Business at the Packer Avenue terminal continues to grow, and the addition of two weekly service calls from SeaLand/APL will increase efficiency, shorten overall transit times and provide greater opportunities to expand business in both perishable and non-perishable commerce between North and South America,” said David N. Whene, president of Greenwich Terminals, operator of the terminal.

Among the carriers calling at Philadelphia, Hamburg Sud has the largest share of reefer container volume, at 22 percent in 2014. The Hamburg-based carrier grew its reefer volume through Philadelphia by 10 percent to 22,000 TEUs in 2014 compared to the prior year. Last year, Mediterranean Shipping Co. controlled 21 percent of the Philadelphia reefer market, while Maersk Line had a 19 percent stake.

APL’s share of the reefer market was 0.5 percent in 2014, while SeaLand didn’t have a piece of the reefer market in Philadelphia because the storied brand wasn’t relaunched until January 2015. Accounting for its 2 percent market share in the first quarter and expected absorption of volume from sister company Maersk Line, SeaLand is set to be the third-largest reefer carrier at the port.

Philadelphia in 2014 was the fifth-largest gateway for containerized reefer products, with a 5.9 percent, which was unchanged from 2013, according to PIERS. The Port of New York and New Jersey is the top reefer port on the coast, having handled 10 percent of refrigerated boxes in 2014. Wilmington, Delaware, had a 7 percent stake, followed by Port Everglades, with a 6 percent share; and Savannah, with a 5.8 percent slice. Last year, 51 percent of U.S. outbound and inbound containerized reefer volume flowed through U.S East Coast ports. West Coast ports handled about 39 percent of the volume, with the remaining handled by Gulf Coast ports.

Source: JOC Staff


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