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New Refrigerated Warehouse Handles 1st Banana Shipments To Port Tampa Bay In 21 Years


A new 135K SF refrigerated warehouse at Port Tampa Bay received its first shipment of perishable products last week: 3,916 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador, delivered by the ship MV Wild Lotus. Port Logistics Refrigerated Services, Port Tampa Bay’s newest tenant, operates the new facility.

Completed last fall, the PLRS cold storage facility includes 6,348 racked pallet positions, on-site dedicated fumigation facilities, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection areas and a lab, all on deep water. It is the only facility of its kind in Central Florida and the Interstate 4 corridor.

The new facility makes Port Tampa Bay more competitive for handling perishable cargoes than it once was. As for bananas, none have been shipped through Tampa Bay in 21 years, though at one time — in the days of 20th-century banana boats — the area was a major transshipment point for the fruit.

But by 1997, that was over. That year the port’s largest banana importer, Turbana Corp., closed its Tampa operations and moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, which the company said was more centrally located. Besides shipping bananas into Tampa, Turbana had been carrying used automobiles on its return sailings to South America, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reports.

The warehouse offers "a new cold supply chain solution to customers in Florida, the Southeast and beyond. It enables us to provide significant savings in their truck delivery costs,” Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson said.