PortMiami hits all-time cargo high, eyes coffee as next big freight good
Image via AP.

PortMiami Cargo
The global market value for coffee last year was $466 billion.

PortMiami enjoyed its busiest cargo year ever in fiscal year 2021, when it moved more than 1.25 million twenty-foot equivalent units — a 17.6% increase over the harbor’s prior record — despite ongoing supply chain disruptions and COVID-19 issues.

Port personnel say they saw little to no vessel congestion or delays in the port’s main shipping channel, which saw smooth cargo operations thanks to partnerships with the trade community, including trucking companies, terminal operators, warehousing businesses, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard and Biscayne Bay Pilots, among others.

“PortMiami cargo performance is a reflection of the resilience of our community and the critical role played by our seaport,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a written statement Friday to mark the milestone.

PortMiami could flex its cargo muscle further in the coming year. On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Commissioners directed Levine Cava’s administration and county Port Director Juan Kuryla to “pursue and maintain any available designations” to make PortMiami a high-volume hub for coffee.

The global market value for coffee last year was $466 billion.

“(It) is anticipated that there will be substantial growth in that market between 2021 and 2026 based, in part, on the growth of demand in North America,” the resolution by Commissioner Javier Souto said. “Although (PortMiami) is a stop for cargo ships coming and going from across the entire world, (it) is ideally situated for the coffee trade insofar as some of the largest global producers of coffee are in the Americas and (it) is a United States port in close proximity to Africa, another major global producer of coffee.”

Though cruise operations continue to ramp up, according to Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau COO Rolando Aedo, passenger numbers still lag behind pre-pandemic rates. In 2019, the global cruise industry welcomed 29.7 million passengers, creating 1.8 million jobs worldwide and generating $154 billion, according to Cruise Lines International Association. In 2020, passenger numbers worldwide fell to just 5.8 million.

It may take until 2023 for the industry to bounce back — or even beyond that, depending on whether new vaccine-resistant variants to the virus arise, cruise expert David Selby said in September.

That makes cargo all the more vital, particularly for PortMiami, which has extended its cruise partners — including Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Voyages — an up to $285.5 million bailout, in which the county agreed to waive about $7 million per month in otherwise guaranteed revenues for up to two years or until full sailings recommence.

The bailout, which Miami-Dade Commissioners approved to retroactively begin March 2020, came with a projection that if cruise ships remained anchored past April 18, 2021, PortMiami would have to dip into its $114 million reserve fund to cover operating costs and debt service on outstanding bonds.

But several cost-saving efforts, favorable financing, $66.9 million the “cruise capital of the world” received through the American Rescue Plan Act and the port’s strong cargo performance — cargo movement in fiscal 2020 dipped just 4.8% below levels from the year before — has moved that fiscal cliff back to fiscal 2023, PortMiami CFO Andy Hecker told Florida Politics in September.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


4 comments

  • Tom

    November 11, 2021 at 8:20 am

    No surprise
    Well done, Gov Ron. America’s Governor promoting Florida ports with success.
    Great job Gov and ports council. Making a difference.

  • martin

    November 11, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    Gov. Ron, a born leader!

  • Evan Noah

    November 12, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for this information, i know one courier company TCS Tracking its safe in Pakistan.

  • Bob

    November 13, 2021 at 1:34 am

    Ron DeSanta is coming to town!

    LETS GO BRANDON!

Comments are closed.


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