Port Manatee and Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. have reached an agreement to keep the company’s fruit imports coming into the fast-growing seaport until at least 2026, with options through 2036.
“Continuing our decades-long partnership with Del Monte is good for Del Monte, good for Port Manatee, and good for consumers throughout the U.S. Southeast who rely upon the efficient flow of bananas, pineapples, avocados, and other much-in-demand fruits through the company’s regional distribution hub at our dynamic seaport,” said Reggie Bellamy, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority, which approved the latest lease agreement at its meeting on Thursday (Oct. 21).
Under the agreement, the Coral Gables, Florida-based Del Monte unit, which has been importing fresh fruit into Port Manatee since 1989, agrees to continue to lease Port Manatee warehouse facilities through at least August 2026, with two extension options of five years each running through August 2036. The agreement is valued at more than $1 million per year.
“Del Monte has enjoyed a strong, mutually beneficial working relationship with Port Manatee for more than 32 years, and we are delighted to sustain this partnership well into the future,” said Denise Tuck, Del Monte’s Port Manatee-based port manager. “Expansion of the seaport’s dockside container yard facilitates our ability to maintain fluid operations bringing in produce from Central America on our fleet of energy-efficient containerships for many years to come.”
Port Manatee is on schedule to complete by yearend expansion of the paved container yard adjoining the seaport’s Berth 12 and 14 docks, more than doubling the facility to 21.9 acres. Meanwhile, Del Monte this year has completed its transition to a fleet of state-of-industry refrigerated containerships featuring fuel-efficient hull design, emissions-reducing scrubber systems, connections to operate onshore power when at berth, and the latest in preventive maintenance technologies.
Del Monte imports represent a significant contributor to the record flow of containerized cargo through Port Manatee, which just reported a 53.3 percent year-over-year increase in the number of 20-foot-equivalent container units crossing its docks, reaching 135,660 TEUs in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
The latest addition to Del Monte’s imports into Port Manatee is sustainably cultivated, trademarked Pinkglow pineapples, which join bananas, traditional pineapples, avocados, plantains, melons, and mangos in moving across Port Manatee docks and through the company’s Southeast distribution center.
“Port Manatee could not be more thrilled to extend its longstanding collaboration with Del Monte,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director of Manatee County’s dynamic seaport. “Over the past four decades, we have grown together in fulfilling market demands while boosting our region’s economy.”
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavy-lift, project, and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, all without the benefit of local property tax support.