Agro Merchants Group to open facility for cold storage in Berkeley County

By Liz Segrist
Published June 23, 2014

Agro Merchants Group plans to open a cold-storage facility in Berkeley County in August to handle refrigerated cargo for customers that import and export through the Port of Charleston.

This is Agro’s first operation in South Carolina. The Alpharetta, Ga.-based company plans to create 63 jobs and invest $8 million in a 120,000-square-foot facility.

Renovations underway at the former Piggly Wiggly Distribution Center will include eight blast freezing cells and 14,000 frozen pallet positions.

The facility will also house a U.S. Department of Agriculture meat import and export inspection room to help move protein-based customer products into and out of the Southeast.

The facility will freeze and store products heading to Mexico, Eastern Europe, China, Africa and the Middle East. Agro aims to increase customers’ growth in international markets, according to Chris Hughes, the U.S. partner and president of Agro Merchants.

“We came to Charleston because we saw a large need for additional contemporary cold-storage space and state-of-the-art operations and processes for the Southeast,” said Hughes, noting that economic development efforts by the Port of Charleston and Berkeley County helped attract the company to the region.

This is one of three cold-storage companies that have announced plans to expand a facility or open a new one in the Charleston area this month.

Lineage Logistics plans to break ground in July on a 340,000-square-foot cold storage distribution facility in the Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston.

The S.C. State Ports Authority board also approved plans to expand its 55,000-square-foot refrigerated cold storage facility in North Charleston by 92,000 square feet. New Orleans Cold Storage will continue to operate the facility, as it has for nearly 30 years.

“When these three projects are realized, we will have half a million square feet of capacity for cold storage,” said Jim Newsome, the ports authority’s president and CEO.

Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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