Port growth spurs cargo storage deals (copy) (copy)

Refrigerated cargo containers sit at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant. Lineage Logistics, the world's largest refrigerated warehouse owner, is making another acquisition that will give it more room for chilled and frozen foods moving through the Port of Charleston. File

Lineage Logistics — the world's largest refrigerated warehouse owner — is making another acquisition that will give it more room for chilled and frozen foods moving through the Port of Charleston.

Lineage plans to buy rival cold-storage firm Emergent Cold in a $900 million deal, the companies announced Tuesday. It's the latest of roughly 40 acquisitions for Lineage since it was founded in 2008.

The acquisition will give Lineage about 1.7 billion cubic feet of cold storage space worldwide, including a 180,000-square-foot warehouse in North Charleston. The company also will take over a 134,000-square-foot facility in North Charleston as part of the acquisition.

Jim Newsome (copy) (copy)

Jim Newsome is president and CEO of the State Ports Authority. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

The smaller warehouse had been owned by New Orleans Cold Storage, which was acquired two months ago by Emergent in a deal that was estimated at $200 million.

Jim Newsome — president and CEO of the State Ports Authority, which owns and operates the Port of Charleston — called the acquisition "a good development for our port," adding the agency "has a great respect for both New Orleans Cold Storage and Lineage."

Lineage will have 260 facilities in 10 countries worldwide once the acquisition closes, and the Emergent Cold sites give the company a foothold in Australian, New Zealand and Sri Lanka markets.

Greg Lehmkuhl, president and CEO of Lineage, said the acquisition will "help customers respond to constantly shifting market dynamics, such as global network optimization, tariff impacts (and) consumer preference shifts ..."

Refrigerated cargo is one of the commodities Charleston port officials have targeted for growth, and volumes have increased 47.6 percent over the past five years due to the port's proximity to pork and poultry producers in the Carolinas.

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The authority in recent years spent $18.5 million to upgrade its refrigerated cargo facilities, including a new refrigerated cargo yard, more electric outlets for refrigerated boxes and a denser stacking arrangement for containers at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

Fresh and frozen poultry and meat are the top export commodities, followed by vegetables. The amount of refrigerated cargo at the Charleston port exceeds imports by about a 3-to-1 margin.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_