The Georgia Ports Authority is increasing chilled cargo capacity at the Port of Savannah to stay ahead of anticipated growth in demand for reefer container volumes.
“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 chilled and frozen warehouse space in Savannah is set to grow by 1% in 2023 to more than 2.2 million square feet.
At its meeting Tuesday, the GPA board approved construction of seven additional refrigerated container (i.e. reefer 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.
Chilled and frozen 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 U.S. Southeast via Savannah reduces overland transportation costs to vital markets such as Atlanta, and ensures perishable goods reach customers faster and fresher,” 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 news, Lynch reported at the meeting that vessel service had returned to normal operations, with no backlog.
Additionally, Lynch reported that four new ship-to-shore cranes are slated to arrive at the Port of Savannah on Feb. 9. The cranes are large enough to handle vessels with a capacity of 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.
The Port of Savannah is coming off its busiest year on record in 2022, handling 5.9 million TEUs for a 5% increase over 2021. The Port of Savannah last year benefitted from an acceleration of an eastward shift of cargo volumes that has been taking since the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2016.