Sugar is Palm Beach County’s biggest agricultural product, and exports from the Port of Palm Beach have been one of the port’s top exports over the years.
Sugar exports increased 43 percent for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2016, port officials said this week. The raw sugar is transported to refineries by barge. Sugar cargo rose to 783,690 tons from 544,780 in one year. The average sugar barge’s load equates to 735 20-ton truckloads.
Transporting the sugar by barge from the Riviera Beach-based port to New York, as opposed to sending it by truck, eliminates approximately 93 million miles of truck traffic annually off of Interstate 95. Unlike most ports, the 162-acre port is an export port, with approximately 80 percent of its cargo consisting of exports.
The information was included in the port’s audited comprehensive financial report for fiscal year 2016, approved by the port commission in May. The commission authorized the port’s executive director, Manuel Almira, to submit the report to the Auditor General of the State of Florida. (To view the complete FY 2016 financial report, click here.)
“The Port’s continuing growth and increased financial strength over the past decade can be attributed to our Board of Commissioners’ unwavering commitment to securing new business for the Port, partnering with our existing tenants by supporting their operational needs at the Port, and maintaining a focused effort on controlling the Port’s costs,” said commission chairman Blair Ciklin.
Overall cargo at the port was up 16 percent to 2.519 million tons. The Port received 24 percent more vessel calls in 2016 versus 2015.
With Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s 1,800-passenger Grand Celebration calling at the Port every other day, passenger counts rose 43 percent to 502,876.
While container tonnage in 2016 remained consistent with tonnage in 2015, break-bulk cargo saw the highest year-over-year increases within the general cargo category of 84 percent, to 98,801 tons from 53,546 tons in 2015. Fuel oil was up 85 percent, to 98,354 tons from 53,045 tons. The port processed 37,122 tons of recycled steel, a 39 percent increase from 2015.
Net operating revenues of $16.6 million are at a 10-year high, up $5.5 million from their lowest point in 2009 during the recession and up 10 percent or $1.6 million from FY 2015. This was primarily due to increases in wharfage and dockage revenues.
As one of the largest employers in Palm Beach County, the Port of Palm Beach and its more than 30 tenants employ more than 2,850 people. Through the contribution of more than $185 million in business revenue and $17.5 million in tenant-contributed state and local annual tax revenue, the Port of Palm Beach is one of the largest economic engines in South Florida.
Source: Palm Beach Post