PERISHABLES: MEAT, POULTRY & SEAFOOD - Meat business heats up on Delaware River

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTThe Delaware River on the Eastern Seaboard has long been associated with meat imports. In fact, the Port of Philadelphia and its neighbor, the Port of Wilmington, DE are vital players in supplying beef to the Eastern United States and beyond.
The business has received a big boost lately. Sean Mahoney, marketing director for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) commented to AJOT in a telephone interview that several developments are boosting meat imports through the Port of Philadelphia. For starters, beef from Uruguay is now being shipped to Philadelphia.
“Whereas beef from Uruguay to the United States used to be limited to 20,000 metric tons a year, that now has been increased to approximately 200,000 or 210,000 metric tons per year,” Mahoney states.
Due to some staff changes at PRPA’s offices, Mr. Mahoney was unable to state exactly how much of the beef from Uruguay was coming to the Port of Philadelphia, but he did comment that the amount is “significant.”
“Now Uruguay surpasses New Zealand in terms of meat imports,” Mahoney states.
The business is also given a boost by the fact that Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the second largest steamship line in the world, has added the Port of Philadelphia on its rotations. In early March, the merchant vessel “MSC Boston” made its first call to the Port of Philadelphia—the first ship to arrive from MSC’s new East Coast of South America Service.
The Geneva, Switzerland-based steamship line operates 288 container ships with a total capacity of 839,962 containers. “They are recognized around the globe for the quality customer care they provide,” Mahoney states. “They are a valuable addition to our portfolio of shipping lines.”
The “MSC Boston” can carry up to 3,469 containers. While it was docked in Philadelphia, longshoremen loaded and unloaded 107 containers, a number that will rise as MSC increases their customer base in the Philadelphia area.
The new weekly service plans to take advantage of the growing trade between South America and the United States. In particular, this service will call on Philadelphia because of the port’s reputation as the No. 1 perishables port on the East Coast of the United States. The ship rotated from Salvador, Brazil to Freeport, Bahamas before heading to Norfolk, Virginia. The next stop was Baltimore, and then Philadelphia. After leaving the Port of Philadelphia, the ship sailed to the Port of New York/New Jersey.
Mahoney tells AJOT that MSC was attracted to PRPA because of the large amount of refrigerated warehousing the Philadelphia area provides.
The ship calls at the Port of Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Terminal. The terminal recently expanded its number of reefer plugs to 1,400. Several years ago, the terminal offered 385 reefer plugs.
“Just last year they completed installing the new plugs,” Mahoney states. “I believe this gives the Packer Avenue Terminal the most reefer plugs of any terminal in North America.”
Another major plus are the number of cold storage warehouses coming on line in the Philadelphia area. Mr. Mahoney points to facilities in South Philadelphia, one mile from the Packer Avenue Terminal, and another new facility in Northeast Philadelphia.
“This growth in capacity is a major advantage for cold storage commodities such as meat,” Mahoney states.
Politics is a plusPolitics is also playing in favor of the Delaware River ports, not only for the increase in beef from Uruguay, but also for beef coming from Australia and New Zealand.
“Australian beef is still our bread and butter,” Mahoney emphasizes. “It drives many of the steamship line service to Philadelphia.”
A major benefit to Australian beef exporters is recent legislation passed by Pennsylvania’s legislature and administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) which increased weights of refrigerate

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American Journal of Transportation