A rising tide of fruit and fodder help boost profits at Cork Port
FYFFES banana deliveries and a surge in animal feed imports helped to boost 2012 profits at Cork Port, one of the country's biggest freight hubs, despite the fact volumes are down across the rest of industry.
Sales and profits at The Port of Cork Company rose last year according to newly-filed accounts, even though imports at other Irish ports fell as much as 11pc. Port traffic reached 9.05m tonnes, up from 8.8m tonnes in 2011, while turnover reached €21.8m, up 2pc.
This is good news for a sector blighted by container traffic levels that are at their lowest in 10 years, as shipments in and out of the country continue to decline due to dampended eurozone and global demand.
Much of this success was due to a boom in animal feed imports, up a massive 58pc compared to 2011, as demand rocketed in the midst the fodder crisis. The port is a key delivery point for Munster farms.
Growth was also accelerated by the expansion of a deep-water container handling facility which gave Irish access to one of the largest ships ever to deliver to this country, in a new weekly direct service by global shipping company Maersk. The ship mainly delivers Fyffes bananas from Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and Panama.
The port invested €2.9m in the new service. A spokesperson conceded it would be a long time before the investment would be returned, but said the development would enhance its reputation as a world-class deep water facility.
"Reliable, accessible ports delivering prosperity is vital to economic recovery in Ireland," said chief executive Brendan Keating. "We see investment in handling equipment and facilities as key to the future of our business and that of our customers, and we are intent on growing our business."
Cork was designated a Tier One port of strategic importance by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar this year, and is now expected to pay an annual dividend to the State.