Cargo figures down at Pascagoula port

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cargo tonnage at the Port of Pascagoula was down 23 percent in 2010, a decrease partly due to Russia’s ban on frozen poultry from the U.S., officials say.

The Mississippi Press reports the port’s public terminals moved 537,762 tons of cargo last year, compared to 700,876 tons in 2009. The data was released by the Jackson County Port Authority.

Poultry exports fell 54 percent to 157,993 tons last year, down from 342,648 tons in 2008.

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Russia has been the port’s largest market for chicken exports, but in January it barred incoming U.S. chicken in fear of the anti-microbial chlorine rinses used to disinfect the meat.

The ban lasted about six months, and Port Director Mark McAndrews said shipments have not yet resumed.

“The 157,000 tons that we did ship went to alternate destinations — Ukraine, Turkey and Cuba for the most part,” McAndrews said. “We’ll know more about what to expect this year later because Russia limits the amount to be imported each year. Depending on that quota, we’ll have a better idea.”

Generally, frozen poultry accounts for a little less than half of all cargo at the port’s public terminals, McAndrews has said, and the port normally moves about 300,000 tons of poultry each year.

Other cargo, such as forest products and chemicals, saw increases in 2010.

“We’re real pleased with the performance of our forest products exports, which showed a nice increase over 2009,” he said. “We really feel that depending on how strong the Russian market comes back in poultry, we’re pretty nicely positioned.”