Port Canaveral cargo business boosted by vehicles, lumber, road material
Port Canaveral has reached a milestone in its vehicle import business, as it received its first shipment of vehicles from Asia last week.
Meanwhile, Port Canaveral showed overall gains in its cargo operations in the fiscal 2017 budget year that ended Sept. 30.
• Cargo tonnage rose 9.13 percent to 6.00 million tons.
• Cargo revenue rose 19.64 percent to $7.66 million.
• Cargo ship visits rose 18.70 percent to 400.
“We’re starting to see the cargo move up a little bit in our revenues,” Port Canaveral Deputy Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer Rodger Rees told port commissioners at their December meeting.
Rees and Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray attributed a good part of the overall gain in the port’s cargo business to commodities used for building construction and road projects, spurred by the improving economy.
“The thing you’ll see all over the port is lumber, and the Central Florida construction boom right now has created a significant demand on lumber,” Murray said. “Most of it is coming in from North Europe. But you’ll see bundles of it everywhere in the port. And we’re trying to keep it moving as quickly as possible. But it’s all exciting business for the port.”
Lumber imports into Port Canaveral more than tripled in fiscal 2017, compared with fiscal 2016.
But, to put things in perspective, while Port Canaveral’s cargo revenue grew to $7.66 million in the last budget year, it remains relatively small, compared with the port’s multiday cruise ship revenue of $70.59 million. Cruise revenue was up 7.09 percent from the previous budget year.
Port Canaveral is the world’s second-busiest cruise port, based on passenger counts.
Vehicle import milestone
The first vehicle shipment from Asia came on the Hoegh Sydney “roll-on/roll-off” ship last week from India.
More than 800 new vehicles were unloaded from the ship over a six-hour period. They are destined for dealerships in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee
The Hoegh Autoliners ship is the fourth vehicle carrier to call on Port Canaveral and the first auto imports to arrive directly from Asia, according to the port.
“The first vehicle to roll off Hoegh Sydney signifies Port Canaveral’s entrance into the direct-from-Asia import market,” Murray said in a statement announcing the shipment.
The port celebrated its new auto business from Asia last week. Port Canaveral staff welcomed the captain and crew of the Hoegh Sydney on the ship’s inaugural visit to the port with the traditional maritime plaque and key exchange and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Murray called Port Canaveral “the ideal gateway to that high-demand, high-consuming market” of vehicle imports to the growing Central Florida region.
The auto business has been growing at Port Canaveral since the port established a partnership with terminal operator AutoPort Canaveral LLC in 2016.
In all, Port Canaveral reported that it imported 13,062 new cars in fiscal 2017, up from 1,197 cars in the previous budget year.
The port now receives import cars from Mexico and Asia, primarily for distribution to dealerships in the Central and South Florida markets, as well as for other parts of the Southeast United States.
Additionally, used cars and trucks are exported from Port Canaveral, albeit that business is relatively flat, with 703 used cars and 482 used trucks exported in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compares with 666 used cars and 627 used trucks exported in the previous budget year.
Diverse cargo gains
Many other categories of cargo are showing strong gains at Port Canaveral, with Rees noting that “the numbers are kind of jumping off the page.”
Here are the fiscal 2017 tonnage figures of Port Canaveral’s leading cargo categorizes:
Petroleum: 3,965,933 tons, up 3.12 percent.
Slag: 650,249 tons, up 9.16 percent.
Granite/rock: 404,229 tons, up 27.01 percent.
Aggregate/limestone: 344,751 tons, up 9.25 percent.
Salt: 278,449 tons, up 26.38 percent.
Lumber: 111,185 tons, up 278.05 percent.
Newsprint: 46,692 tons, up 117.90 percent.
Bulk fertilizer: 43,552 tons, down 46.50 percent.
Port Canaveral also is the main port of export to Central America and the Middle East for heavy equipment and trucks used in forestry, mining and agriculture.
Dave Berman is government editor at FLORIDA TODAY.
Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or firstname.lastname@example.org.