The opening of PortFresh Logistics during the early fourth quarter of 2016 will strengthen the role the Port of Savannah in Georgia will play as an entry point for fresh produce originating in South America.
PortFresh Logistics is constructing a 100,000-square-foot cold-treatment facility dedicated to perishable cargoes.
“Our services will include cold storage, drayage, inspection — both USDA and in-house — full repacking and regarding capability, pre-cooling, import and export cross dock, on-site U.S. customs stations, third-party food certification, organic handling certification, grower services including sales, inspection and logistics, regional LTL services, fumigation services in partnership with Royal Fumigation, CTPAT and more,” Todd Huber, the company’s vice president of operations, told The Produce News.
“Perishable foods are an important growth sector for the Georgia Ports Authority,” said Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Port Authority.
PortFresh Logistics will create 40 new jobs upon its opening. That number is expected to increase to 75 full-time jobs by the fourth year of operation. The company will be led by Chief Executive Officer Brian Kastick and President Rebecca George.
Kastick provided some analysis of the role PortFresh Logistics will play to facilitate the distribution of perishables in the Southeast Corridor. “Currently, more than 90 percent of imported fruits and vegetables entering the U.S. East Coast arrive via Northeast ports,” he said. “That means cargo headed to the Southeast must be trucked down, adding time and expense to the logistics supply chain.
“Using the Port of Savannah offers significant time and money savings per container for areas throughout the Southeast region,” Kastick continued. “We believe the growing population of the U.S. Southeast, government policy changes and perishable industry consolidation will break open significant pent-up demand for the new perishable supply chain gateway built around the Port of Savannah.”
The PortFresh’s state-of-the-art facility will be situated on 20 acres of a 182-acre site specifically designed to allow multiple climate zones. Both import and export cargo will be handled. The facility is located on I-16 on Old River Road, seven miles from I-95 and 15 miles from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.
“Savannah is the fourth largest port in the U.S., with the Garden City Terminal being the largest single-terminal container operation,” Huber said. “The proximity of both PortFresh and Garden City to I-95 and I-16 allows for fast terminal truck turnaround. Combining that with lower fees and drayage costs will make this an ideal marriage for importing perishable cargo into the Port of Savannah. On the outbound side, Savannah has an ideal distribution footprint. The proximity to South and Midwest hubs that supply over 40 percent of U.S. consumers is reached better through the Port of Savannah than any major port along the East Coast.”
Huber added that domestic shippers will be able to realize advantages by utilizing the company’s storage and repacking services. “Also, CSX and Norfolk Southern both offer rail service to Garden City Terminal allowing our western U.S. shippers to come East at very competitive rates,” he said.
Huber said PortFresh Logistics will raise the bar on customer service. “Our hours of operation will revolve around customer satisfaction,” he said. “Our customers drive our business. They entrust their product to us. We will do everything possible to satisfy their needs and continually grow that trust.”
Negotiations to bring the project to fruition occurred over a three-year period. A grant from OneGeorgia Equity helped PortFresh defray infrastructure costs for water and sewer lines to the site.