The final month of 2016 produced record-setting cargo movement through Port Everglades and marked the highest producing month in its 90-year history, port officials announced.
In December, the port logged 104,590 TEUs or 20-foot equivalent units, the industry's standard measurement for shipping containers. That marked a 15 percent increase from December 2015.
Most of the increase in cargo volume was due to a resurgence of business from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, the seaport said.
"Our customers are bringing in higher volumes of consumer goods such as produce, clothing and household goods as the region's population increases. It's an indication of a strengthening economy," Steven Cernak, the port’s chief executive and port director, said in a statement.
During the record-breaking month, imports accounted for 52,627 TEUs and exports, 51,963 TEUs, port spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy said.
A new pilot program for refrigerated produce also helped to boost December’s results.
"Port Everglades helped spearhead a pilot program to bring refrigerated produce from South America directly to Florida, when it was previously restricted to only coming into northern U.S. ports," said Jim Pyburn, Port Everglades’ director of business development. "The pilot program was a great success and now we are seeing a wider variety of produce coming to South Florida faster and fresher than when it was trucked here from the Northeast."
Since September, Port Everglades has seen a steady increase in TEU volume, officials said.
That growth is also supported by additional service calls from several cargo operators, including German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd, which started a direct call to Port Everglades from Valencia, Spain, on its Mediterranean Gulf Express service. Additionally, SeaLand and APL's North American Express Service increased its cargo volumes from South America to Port Everglades last year, after starting service there in late 2015.
Last week, Port Everglades received a shipment of snow peas from Guatemala that was then flown from Miami to Amsterdam as part of Florida’s first ocean-to-air transshipment program.
That program, developed in partnership with Crowley Maritime Corp's Miami-based subsidiary Customized Brokers and Miami International Airport, allows Central American produce to reach European markets faster by expediting turn times, and expanding customers' distribution, the Broward seaport said.
"This new program will help to strengthen Port Everglades' position as the leading perishables seaport in Florida and will give shippers more options," Cernak said.