65% of America’s Agricultural Exports Go Through the Port of New Orleans

Port of New Orleans” by UnitedSoybeanBoard is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many people in New Orleans don’t realize how crucial the Port of New Orleans is not only for Louisiana’s, but also the United States’ economy. Without it, both would be up a river without a port. 

“In Louisiana, we have about 8.3 million acres of row crops,” explained Mike Strain, the Agricultural Commissioner for Louisiana. “The majority of our commodities are exported and when you look at the United States, one in three acres of America’s production is exported. Right now, 65% of the nation’s agricultural commodities that are exported come right down the river.” 

Right down the river, and right through the Port of New Orleans. While bulk grains, grain products, and edible oils are exported through the port, the dominant product is poultry. 

“Right now we are exporting about 380,000 tons per year, and with the new expansion that is now underway we’ll bring that up to 600,000 metric tons per year, and that’s a lot of poultry” commented Strain.  “We have the largest cold storage export facility for poultry in the hemisphere.”

The poultry, 40% of which is from Louisiana, is exported from New Orleans to customers all over the world. “The bulk of this product is chicken leg quarters, some of its chicken feet, chicken paws, they go to China,” commented Mark Blanchard, SVP of Network Optimization at Lineage Logistics. “But most of it’s leg quarters. It’s almost a byproduct of the US industry because we use so much breast meat on this side.” 

Lineage Logistics, a warehousing and logistics company that has over 340 facilities spread out over 15 countries plans on building a $42 million expansion onto its Jourdan Road cold-storage facility in New Orleans East. The cold storage complex will grow from 160,000 square feet to 304,000 square feet, enabling the port to up its exports from 380,000 tons of poultry a year to 600,000 tons. 

“The Lineage Logistics project at the Port of New Orleans is a boon for the City of New Orleans and our entire state,” Governor Edwards said. “The value-added exports of Lineage Logistics will continue to strengthen Louisiana’s $1.6 billion poultry industry, including nearly 300 commercial broiler producers throughout 11 parishes. We welcome this significant new investment and its economic impact across Louisiana.”

There’s a lot of optimism that the impressive project, set to be finished in the second quarter of 2022, will pay off. “This expansion is critical, due to increasing worldwide demand for U.S. poultry, primarily from Angola, Cuba, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Taiwan,” said Lineage’s president of International Operations Mike McClendon. “Lineage and Port NOLA have worked closely on this project to accommodate growing volumes and new lines of export agriculture commodities, and a growing trade of fresh produce imports.”

Louisiana provided $10 million in capital outlay funds to the project while Port of New Orleans supplied $2 million. Lineage is supplying the remaining $30 million for the project. 

“This expansion of Lineage Logistics in New Orleans East is a win-win-win for the City of New Orleans,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Not only does it create economic impact and strengthen our role in the poultry industry, it will also help us get our people back to work by creating 50 new direct jobs, and another 150 construction jobs. On our road to recovery from COVID-19, we have to diversify our economy in order to make a real impact and move the needle for our people around economic mobility, and this expansion is a great step.”

Editors note: The original article incorrectly stated Mark Blanchard is Head of Lineage Logistics instead of SVP of Network Optimization at Lineage Logistics.


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