Apr 12, 2021 - News

The pandemic's impact on Tampa Bay's ports

Container cranes at Port Tampa. Photo: Morissey Montgomery for Axios

The impact of COVID-19 on Tampa Bay's Port Tampa and Port Manatee came down to two things: home goods and fruit, according to an analysis by logistics software company Descartes.

Low on juice: Port Manatee shifted from importing mostly fruit to larger items, like refrigerators and air conditioners. At Port Tampa, fruit juice — usually the third-ranked commodity — declined 81.6% in import volume. Import values of juice plummeted by $122.7 million.

  • But furniture imports increased 99% in total volume and 85% in value, making it the top-ranked commodity in both categories.

The big picture: The change in home good imports covered for the lack of fruit and juice, helping Port Tampa crack the top 25 in Descartes' ranking of the top U.S. ports and putting Port Manatee at 27th.

  • Port Tampa's import volume increased by 27% from 2019 to 2020, the fourth-highest for import growth. But the port still declined 2.4% in maritime value.
  • Port Manatee came in second for import growth at 32%. That only amounted to a 0.3% increase in value for the port.

Another interesting stat: The places the two Tampa Bay ports import from vastly differ:

Reproduced from The Descartes Systems Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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