Total tonnage surpasses 2003 figures by over 16%

James T. McDermott, Jr., Executive Director of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) is pleased to report that the Port of Philadelphia’s 2004 cargo statistics, recently released by PRPA’s Strategic Planning Department, show sizable gains for virtually every port cargo compared to 2003 figures. Containers, cocoa beans, lumber, and military cargoes showed especially dramatic gains in 2004.

“These cargo figures confirm what we already knew, that this Port is moving in the right direction,” said Mr. McDermott. “We’re undertaking the initiatives and forming the business and governmental alliances needed to maintain a healthy and thriving port. These cargo figures also tell me that we will successfully meet those challenges yet to be addressed, and that we’ll be even more productive next year.”

With 1,450,512 metric tons of containerized cargo handled in 2004, compared to the 1,138,885 metric tons handled in 2003, container tonnage experienced a 27% gain in 2004. Converted to teus, the Port of Philadelphia handled 178,046 teus of containers last year compared to 147,243 Tteus of containers handled in 2003.

PRPA’s dedicated cocoa-handling facility at Pier 84 had an especially successful year. With 178,488 metric tons of cocoa beans handled in 2004 compared to 104,013 metric tons handled in 2003, cocoa beans showed more than a 71% improvement over 2003 levels.

Lumber and finished wood products, growing cargoes in recent years thanks to the Port of Philadelphia’s enhanced connections with South America, both showed big gains in 2004. With 93,407 metric tons of finished wood products handled in 2004 compared to 41,143 tons handled in 2003, this cargo showed a notable 127% gain, more than double 2003 levels. With 15,737 metric tons of lumber handled in 2004 compared to the 1,230 tons of this cargo handled in 2003, lumber was up an unprecedented 1179% over previous levels.

However, in terms of percentage gains and sheer amount of cargo handled, the Port of Philadelphia’s biggest success story in 2004 was its military cargoes. Designated a Strategic Military Port by the Defense Department in 2002, PRPA’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal regularly handles military vehicles, helicopters, and other supplies destined for US military operations around the world, especially Iraq and other points in the Middle East. With 51,225 metric tons of military cargoes handled in 2004 (PRPA’s biggest year to date for this cargo) compared to the 3,069 metric tons of military cargoes handled in 2003, the Port’s labor-intensive military cargoes experienced an amazing 1569% gain over the previous year.

Other highlights: With 932,007 metric tons of steel handled last year, steel showed a healthy 17% gain over 2003 levels, in part due to the easing of federal restrictions on imported steel. 25,501 metric tons of pulp and waste paper were handled in 2004, a 188% gain over 2003. 461,132 metric tons of liquid bulk cargoes were handled in 2004, a 7% gain over 2003. 13,798 metric tons of project cargo were handled in 2004, a 96% gain over 2003.

Fruit (207,073 metric tons handled in 2004) and rolls of high-quality coated paper (796,766 metric tons handled in 2004) were consistent with 2003 levels. However, with clementines and avocados from Chile about to enter the US market accompanied by a big promotional push by Chilean growers, PRPA expects fruit levels to make a major jump during the upcoming 2005-06 winter fruit season at the Port of Philadelphia, boding well for both 2005 and 2006 fruit numbers here.

In summary, the Port of Philadelphia’s containerized cargoes were up 27%, breakbulk cargoes were up 12%, and liquid bulk cargoes were up 7%, resulting in an overall increase of 16.6% in total cargoes handled at PRPA facilities in 2004 as compared to 2003.

“With big challenges- such as our Southport expansion plan and the deepening of the Delaware River’s main channel to 45 feet- still yet to be accomplished, the Port of Philadelphia nevertheless experienced