Specialized juice-carrying containers join other cargo containers and trailers at a busy dockside yard at Port Manatee.

Port Manatee has reported the busiest first fiscal half in its nearly 50-year history, shattering several key cargo records for the six-month period that ended March 31.

The  port has achieved new first-half highs for total tonnage throughput and containerized and bulk cargo activity, according to figures released Thursday, April 18.

“The sustained, vibrant growth of Port Manatee underscores the success of our diverse strategy to boost cargo activity while supporting even more family-wage jobs and further economic gains throughout our region,” says Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority. “As we approach 2020 and the 50-year anniversary of Port Manatee operations, we are clearly on course for continuing record productivity and prosperity.”

Record accomplishments of Port Manatee in its first fiscal half compared with the first six months of 2018 include total short tons up 14 percent, to 5,132,864; containerized cargo, as measured by 20-foot-equivalents units up 34 percent, to 25,242; containerized cargo tons, up 36 percent, to 262,143; dry bulk cargo tons, up 32 percent, to 1,216,090; and liquid bulk cargo tons, up 11 percent, to 3,400,539.

Much of the gain in containerized cargo activity is attributable to a major increase in juice volumes coming into the port in specially fitted container units, imported via Mexico services of Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping. Also contributing significantly to container volumes is longtime tenant Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc.

On the dry bulk front, volumes of fly ash, salt and cement moving across Port Manatee docks all more than doubled from the year-earlier figures, while liquid bulk gains were propelled by increases in gasoline, bunker fuels, diesel and ethanol, as well as not-from-concentrate juices.

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