Based on data from 2019, Georgia is the #1 state for total forest product exports. As the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) continues to report record breaking activity, infrastructure investments have positioned the port for continued growth, which could provide a significant boost for the forest industry in the state.
On September 18, the Georgia Ports Authority welcomed the CMA CGM Brazil, the largest ship to ever call the U.S. East Coast with a capacity of 15,072 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs). In addition to this monumental achievement, the Savannah Port reported its strongest month on record. The trend of cargo moving to Savannah has been accelerated by the pandemic and a greater reliance on e-commerce. Infrastructure investments have allowed the Savannah port to meet needs for bigger vessels, including deeper water, expansive container facilities and taller cranes.
“The combination of big ship efficiency, our landside infrastructure and the soon-to-be-completed harbor deepening make Georgia the logical choice for American farms and factories competing in the global marketplace,” GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight said in a release following the welcome of the CMA CGM Brazil. “The Port of Savannah stands ready to support the nation’s exporters as our economy regains momentum.”
7 records in 11 days: the 1st voyage of our CMA CGM BRAZIL on the U.S. EastCoast turned into a real record-breaking journey from #NewYork to #Charleston.
More than just records, this #ship’s voyage is a reflection of the dynamism of the U.S. economy, its #ports and #terminals. pic.twitter.com/CBtj47BNwn
— CMA CGM Group (@cmacgm) September 30, 2020
Thanks to these infrastructure investments, the Ports in Savannah and Brunswick have solidified Georgia’s spot as a global and national leader in forest products trade. According to recent data from PIERS Enterprise, a leading provider of import and export data, the Port of Savannah was the #1 U.S. port for total forest products in CY2019, handling 14% of the total tonnage. Nearly 600k twenty-foot equivalent container units, or roughly 300k container truckloads, of forest products were handled through the Garden City Terminal in Savannah. Lined up end-to-end this would reach from Savannah to California.
GFA President & CEO Andres Villegas said that continued infrastructure investments will translate to continued growth in the sector.
“As the Port continues to expand its capacity and increase efficiency, the freight costs associated with exporting forest products should decrease thus increasing their competitive position globally,” Villegas said.
According to internal data from the Georgia Ports Authority, nearly 760K short tons of bulk forest products moved via Georgia Ports Authority during CY2019, all of which was wood pellets exported via East River/Lanier Dock in Brunswick. In addition, there were over 362K short tons of breakbulk forest products through GPA in CY2019, comprised of Wood Pulp, Linerboard, and Lumber via the Ocean Terminal in Savannah and Wood Pulp and Linerboard via Mayor’s Point in Brunswick.
Continued investments in infrastructure and long-term planning have allowed the port to weather recent market volatility and position the Port for future growth. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project which will deepen the inner channel to 47 feet upon completion in 2022, and Savanah’s Mega Rail Terminal project that’s now 50 percent operational and will be the largest on-dock intermodal rail facility of any port in North America with 1 million containers of lift capacity.