Increasing fruit imports helped the Port of Philadelphia boost the amount of cargo it handles.

Fruit shores up increasing Philadelphia imports

The port handled 328,904 metric tons of fruit in 2010, up 2% from the 321,702 metric tons it handled in 2009, according to a news release.

Shipments from Columbia — mostly bananas — and Chile are the two top fruit cargoes the port regularly unloads.

The port saw a 17% increase in the tonnage it handles from 2009 to 2010. The port processed 3.6 million metric tons in 2010 compared to the 3.1 million metric tons that entered the port the year before.

Port officials attribute a recovering national economy as well as aggressively working to attract new business as reasons for the port’s overall cargo increase.

“Last year, we didn’t point to a challenging national economy as an excuse for a reduction in port business,” James McDermott Jr., the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority’s executive director, said in a news release. “We went out and aggressively sought new business, even if many believed it unlikely we could land it. Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, we’re already a step ahead.”

McDermott also credits continued state investment in the port’s terminals and facilities for helping fuel the increased volume.

Fruit imports followed automobiles and liquid bulk cargoes in amount of increased volume, according to the port authority.