The cocoa bean season has begun. Read coverage in the Courier Post. https://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/2020/12/18/cocoa-beans-south-jersey-port-camden-international-commodities-wheeler/3932341001/
South Jersey Port terminals are open and cargo handling activities have resumed thanks to our team members who worked around the clock to remove the snow.
South Jersey Port team members are working around the clock to keep our Camden terminals open during the snowstorm, so that cargo handling activities can safely resume tomorrow December 17th. Click here to see our team in action.IMG_5183
SJPC is monitoring the potential for a winter storm arriving Wednesday Dec 16 into Thursday Dec 17. Realizing that this may be lighter or heavier than expected, we are nevertheless making preparations with snow removal and salting equipment at the ready. As of now, we are planning to keep our Camden terminals operating, but will make allowances if any cargo handling activities need to be modified for safety reasons.
Camden, N.J. – Americans need their chocolate fix – even more in a pandemic – and it’s the South Jersey Port’s mission to help satisfy it.
On December 16, the annual flow of high-quality cocoa beans from West Africa will begin a month early when 215,000 sacks of cocoa beans are off-loaded at the Joseph A. Balzano Marine Terminal in Camden from the ship “Four Diamonds.”
“Working with our partners, Camden International Commodities Terminals and Delaware River Stevedores, we’ve become the premier cocoa bean import terminal on the East Coast,” Andy Saporito, CEO and Executive Director of SJPC.
The cocoa bean business means more jobs. In addition to the scores of full-time terminal workers, hundreds of local day-laborers are hired throughout the season to sort, store, and handle millions of sacks of cocoa beans for final processing by major confectionary companies including chocolate giants: Hershey, Mars, and Blommer.
Last year, two million burlap bags (40,000 tons) of cocoa beans were slung off ships by DRS stevedores, onto SJPC’s patented trolleys, and hauled immediately by Champion Trucking into the CICT warehouse across the street from the Balzano Terminal.
“Our process at South Jersey Port is far more efficient than containerized beans,” Jeff Wheeler, president of CICT explained. “We eliminate that additional step of loading and unloading millions of bags of beans from containers – both here and at the source.”
“It is a seamless team effort from ship to warehouse honed over 20 years of expert experience to deliver every bean,” added Robert Palaima of Delaware River Stevedores.
It’s hard manual work, a South Jersey Port expertise.
“It’s the hardest work on the waterfront,” Wheeler added. “We’ll be offloading 215,000 bags from the ‘Four Diamonds.’ Each bag weighs 150 pounds! Our people don’t shy away from it. They’ve developed the skills that make our terminal the most efficient handler of chocolate gold.”
“For most of our day-labor crews, it’s a family affair: fathers and sons, aunts and nieces, brother and sister, uncles and nephews. And they’re getting a nice payday before Christmas. We’re all excited when the ship comes in!”
The 14,000 tons of beans brought in by the “Four Diamonds” is the first installment on what is hoped to be a rebounding cocoa bean import business that was damaged last year by market effects of COVID-19.
Chocolate is an impulse buy and perfecting the balance of supply and demand has been extraordinarily complex as confectionary companies realign their marketing strategies from brick and mortar stores to digital in order to energize sales.
“We believe we’re going to see a significant rebound in chocolate demand, especially as vaccines against COVID come online,” said Wheeler. “Cocoa bean inventories in the U.S. are comparatively low, need to be replenished and, as consumption ticks up, so will the need for more imports.”
The West African import season runs through April and is followed by months of imports of cocoa beans from evolving Central American growers.
The executive leadership team and the Board of the South Jersey Port Corporation recognized Thom Johnson for his 33 years of service to the Port and the community it serves at their board meeting today. Thom joined the South Jersey Port team as a clerk on in 1987 and worked his way up through a variety of critical and challenging terminal assignments – to become a key member of the management team taking leadership roles in marketing, operations, safety and foreign trade.
A life-long resident of Camden with an engaging personality and infectious smile, Thom understood the importance of hard work, training and education in his career objectives. So, after a full day at the Port – the graduate of Father Michael Doyle’s Sacred Heart in Camden went to Rutgers University-Camden at night to earn his Bachelor’s degree and eventually a Masters’ degree in Public Administration.
Thom will retire at the end of this year and begin the next phase of his life by using the skills he developed over the past 33 years to continue to give back to the community. He has been a valued team member and we all wish him well for his continued success.
Attention South Jersey Port Trucking Partners! Deliver holiday cheer this season and drop off a gift for our 2020 Holiday Toy Drive on your next stop at South Jersey Port. Donate NEW UNWRAPPED toys or books and bring a smile to a child this Holiday Season. Collection bins are located at the Balzano Marine Terminal by the check-in hallway and at the Broadway Marine Terminal next to the check-in window. Bins are open through Wednesday, December 16th. Happy Holidays.
American democracy prevails under the wings of the veterans who we celebrate today. They are individuals of all races, religions, and cultures with family roots stretching around the globe and across time with an undying devotion to our nation.
They’ve fought our wars and maintained our peace for 250 years. They are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, uncles, aunts, cousins, and co-workers. They are our American family.
We at the South Jersey Port Corporation honor them all, especially our military veteran co-workers.
WE SALUTE YOU ALL!
John Lawrie Tubulars, specialists in the supply of steel tubulars for piling to the construction industry, has been expanding its services across America. Recent investment in a new yard and the expansion of existing sites as well as new equipment has meant the company is better placed to service the construction market now more than ever.
In May, the company expanded its footprint in Camden with an 8.5-acre lease with SJPC to complement its existing five sites across Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma. The expansion includes both warehouse and office space.
Situated close to the excellent intermodal transportation links at South Jersey Port’s Balzano Marine Terminal, the new acreage provides John Lawrie with the additional capacity to store thousands of tons of pipe that is ready to ship to clients in the Northeast and across the country. Plans are also underway for capital investment converting the warehouse space to a state-of-the-art, full-service fabrication operation for cutting, beveling, and welding pipe to exact client specifications. The improvements are scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
“John Lawrie is a national leader in the supply of steel pipes and we are excited to see the commitment they are making to the City of Camden with this long-term lease with the South Jersey Port Corporation,” said Executive Director & CEO Andy Saporito. “We are committed to the highest level of customer service and working to meet the infrastructure needs of customers and support continued growth of our marine terminals”.
Continued heavy investment in inventory at John Lawrie Tubular locations gives customers a greater selection of sizes, walls, and grades of domestic steel pipe.
John Lawrie Tubulars has a clear focus on continuing to further enhance its capabilities for the supply of more products to the pipe pile, micropile, and helical pile industry. With an inventory of over 90,000 tons of ready to ship steel pipe across six national locations, John Lawrie Tubulars is ideally suited to meet the steel pipe piling requirements of construction and deep foundation markets. In-house services include beveling, plasma and saw cutting, splicing to length, inspection, as well as cleaning, blasting, profiling and adding endplates.
“It has been a pleasure working with SJPC in developing our new facility in Camden. As we continue to grow our business, we see our new Camden facility as a vital strategic location, not only to service the Northeast construction market but the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic markets as well. We look forward to a strong continued partnership with SJPC and will continue our capital investment in the Camden facility to make sure we can provide our clients with the highest quality products and service in the piling industry,” said Vic Sinclair, CEO, John Lawrie.
SJPC announced the approval of a $6 million Rail Freight Assistance Grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) earlier this year\ to go towards improvements to facilitate and expand rail cargo transportation at the Joseph A. Balzano Marine Terminal in Camden by increasing the efficiency of load times and nearly tripling the capacity of moving rail cargo.
The improvements provide an opportunity to expand the local economy as crucial products like steel, cocoa beans, wood, and project cargo will get to businesses and consumers in the region more easily while also providing job opportunities for residents.
“This grant is a big win for South Jersey residents and is aligned with our mission of expanding the economy in South Jersey and providing job opportunities by increasing cargo and maritime activity,” said Executive Director & CEO of SJPC, Andrew Saporito. “We are grateful to NJDOT for recognizing the potential and providing the funding to increase our rail capacity at Balzano Marine Terminal.”
SJPC facilities play a significant role within the Delaware River complex – a transportation node with proximity to the federal shipping channel and three Class 1A railways. SJPC facilities are open to the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean and receive ships moving four million tons of breakbulk, bulk, and containerized cargo annually.
“This improvement to the rail system will support and promote economic activity within New Jersey, as well as increasing the number of businesses served. It will also increase employment both directly on-site and indirectly through freight carriers associated with the port,” says Saporito.
The projects covered by the grant include expanding the port’s ability to facilitate rail cargo transportation by completely removing and replacing 7,200 feet of obsolete rail and installing three turnouts, as well as other efficiency adjustments, which allow cargo transportation access to the interior of the port. Because of the increase in efficiency of load times, it is estimated that allowing Conrail access to the inside of the port would nearly triple the capacity of rail cargo transportation.
SJPC is linked to the Port of Philadelphia – a designated strategic military port – through common waterways, economic contributions to the region, and a network of bridges, roads, rails, and waterfront attractions. The Balzano Marine Terminal, one of SJPC’s facilities, is a major gateway of commerce and trade to the Northeast US as well as the Delaware Valley Region. While the facility features both rail and highway connections, there are critical improvements needed for the infrastructure of the rail connections in particular.
“The rail lines at the terminal require repair and expansion as present conditions are inadequate to service the needs of the port,” said Richard A. Alaimo, Chairman of SJPC. “Three leading rail freight operators – CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Conrail – have rail connections that service this terminal. These carriers are no longer willing to enter the terminal because of these conditions and are relegated to track along the very fringes of the property. As a result, the infrastructure used to quickly and efficiently move cargo is compromised.”
As the terminal is located within a Federal Opportunity Zone, the increased labor demand can provide opportunities for residents. Higher employment in this area will have a positive impact on the community and will help to drive local investment projects for other Opportunity Zone investors and increase indirect jobs associated with both the port and the community. Additionally, this project will increase throughput which will have a significant regional impact in that it creates an incentive to move more cargo through New Jersey.