The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is increasing capacity for temperature controlled food products to stay ahead of anticipated growth in demand.
“Expansion among our cold storage partners in the Savannah market will drive greater volumes of chilled cargo crossing our docks,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “While the Port of Savannah already accommodates the most refrigerated containers on the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts, enhancing our on-terminal capacity will better support the jobs and opportunity sparked by private investment.”
Private frozen and chilled warehouse space in Savannah is set to grow by 11 percent in 2023 to more than 2.2 million square feet.
At a recent board meeting, the GPA approved construction of seven additional refrigerated container racks at the Port of Savannah. The $6.2 million project will grow the number of slots for cold cargo to 3,506 at Garden City Terminal, counting chassis plug-ins. Savannah’s Ocean Terminal provides another 368 refrigerated container plugs.
Frozen and chilled products handled at the Port of Savannah range from proteins such as poultry and seafood to blueberries, avocados, citrus, stone fruits and onions, among other commodities. GPA’s fastest growing cold chain exports in 2022 were poultry, beef, fish fillets, candy and frozen vegetables. Top performing chilled imports were grapes, vegetables, fish fillets, potatoes and candy.
“Serving the US Southeast via Savannah reduces overland transportation costs to vital markets such as Atlanta, and ensures perishable goods reach customers faster,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “The growing population of our region, combined with expansions in port and private infrastructure are strengthening Savannah’s position as a perishable supply chain gateway.”
In other business at the GPA board meeting, Lynch reported that vessel service had returned to normal operations, with no backlog.
Additionally, the executive director announced that four new ship-to-shore cranes are slated to arrive at the Port of Savannah on February 9. The cranes are large enough to handle vessels with capacity exceeding 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units.
The cranes are destined for Container Berth 1 at Garden City Terminal, which is currently under renovation. When berth improvements are complete in July, the Port of Savannah will be able to serve seven ships simultaneously.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 561,000 jobs throughout the state annually, and contribute $33 billion in income, $140 billion in revenue and $3.8 billion in state and local taxes to the economy.