Port Tampa Bay hosts successful forum to discuss Florida agriculture export opportunities

Release and photography courtesy of Port Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla.—Port Tampa Bay’s Cruise Terminal 6 was the site on April 27, 2016 of the Fresh from Florida Export Summit – Accessing Overseas Markets co-presented by the Port and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  The summit brought together a cross section of agriculture, shipping, refrigerated cargo and logistics experts with attendance by Florida growers and producers, including the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and its members, as well as food and beverage companies, logistics service providers and regulatory agencies.
Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson opened up the day-long event, setting a tone of enthusiasm for the commercial and shipping opportunities that lie ahead for the Port and the State of Florida, particularly with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal this coming June and the Port’s recent acquisition of two new post-Panamax container cranes.

“We are delighted to be hosting this important summit and believe there are significant opportunities for the Florida agriculture sector and the food and beverage industry to expand their presence in overseas export markets” Mr. Anderson said. Florida Agriculture Commissioner the Honorable Adam Putnam provided a thought-provoking keynote address on the state of agriculture and its many related issues and challenges in Florida, as well as export opportunities and factors currently facing one of the state’s largest industries.
Other speakers and panelists included:
Doug Wray, VP Commercial, Ports America
Raul Alfonso, Chief Commercial Officer, Port Tampa Bay
Stephanie Lane, Director Industrial Development, CSX Railroad
Ty Smith, Business Development Manager, The Expeditors
Virginia Bailey, Account Executive, Zim Container Service
Paul Mitchell, Director International Trade Development, Enterprise Florida
Juan P. Gonzalez, Senior International Business Development Assistant, Consulate General of Canada
Roberto Nicolas, Deputy Consul General of Mexico
Michael Henney, Director, Caribbean Basin Agricultural Trade Office, US Department of Agriculture
Frank Giles, Editor, Florida Grower Magazine
Rodney Clouser, Professor & Associate Chair, Food & Resource Economics Department, University of Florida
Mike Aerts, Director of Production and Supply Chain Management, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association
Richard Ghent, Senior Manager Public Affairs, the Mosaic Company
The Tampa Bay/Orlando I-4 Corridor is Florida’s largest and fastest growing market and has the largest concentration of distribution centers in the State.  The region is located at the heart of Florida's agriculture sector, and is home to the State's largest cluster for the food and beverage sector, with industry leading brands such as Publix, Sysco's International Food Group, Gordon Food Service, Walmart/Sam's Club, Winn-Dixie, Trader-Joes, Save-a-lot, Aldi, United Natural Foods, Vigo/Alessi, Goya, Mario Camacho, Southern Wine & Spirits, Break-Thru Beverage, Coca Cola/Minute Maid, Pepsico/Tropicana, Cutrale, Florida's Natural, Citrus World, Wish Farms, Tampa Juice, Bama Sea Products, Tampa Bay Fisheries, etc. all with a significant presence in the area.

Together with container terminal operator partner Ports America, Port Tampa Bay is investing to be well positioned to serve the continued growth in the Florida/Southeastern US market and to handle the larger container vessels expected, including as a result of the Panama Canal expansion.  The arrival of two new post-Panamax cranes earlier this month was an important milestone in expanding the Port’s capability, and the Port has plans to quadruple the size of its container terminal from the current 40 acres to over 160 acres.  It is also developing new cold storage facilities and together with CSX, is working on plans for a new express refrigerated train service to the US Midwest to serve both import/export and domestic business.  In October 2015 Port Tampa Bay received approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in the cold treatment program to import select types of refrigerated produce from South America.