More than 10 million tonnes of traffic passed through the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay ports last year, a 3% increase on last year.
The Port of Cork said total imports increased by 8% while exports increased by 5%.
The most growth was seen in the agri-food sector such as animal feed, fertilizers and cereals which increased by 39% over the year.
Oil traffic handled through Whitegate Oil Refinery owned by Canadian company Irving Oil saw an increase of 4%.
Total container volumes through both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy Container Terminals grew by 6% compared to 2017 figures, with a total of 229,762 twenty-foot containers were handled in 2018.
The Port of Cork also handled 95 cruise liners bringing over 157,000 passengers and crew to the region, while Bantry Bay Port Company welcomed 10 cruise liners to the harbour town.
Brendan Keating, Chief Executive said: ‘2018 saw the most growth in Agri-food imports which rose by 39% compared to last year. This increase will have a positive effect on the volumes Munster can export, underpinning Ireland as a major food-exporting nation."
"However, approximately three-quarters of exports go to markets in the UK and the EU, with the balance going to the rest of the world. So with Brexit looming, this is an area we will be keeping a close eye on in terms of trade agreements."
"In 2018 the Port of Cork marked a major milestone with the launch of the new €80 Million Cork Container Terminal development in Ringaskiddy, so therefore we were particularly encouraged by the growth in container traffic with volumes through both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy Container Terminals up by 6% compared to 2017. We also saw key growth in our cruise business with 95 cruise ships visiting. This was the most significant cruise season ever for the Port of Cork with over 157,000 passengers and 69,000 crews stepping ashore this summer."
While Brexit is drawing nearer, the Port of Cork has much to be positive about and in 2019 the Port expects to see further growth in traffic. A record 104 cruise ships are scheduled to call which will bring over 200,000 visitors to the region.
The construction of Cork Container Terminal is underway and is envisaged to be operational by 2020, thus securing the need for growth in the region. The new ferry service from Cork to Santander operated by Brittany Ferries has reported a steady increase in the number of freight units using the route, with hauliers choosing this route to avoid the UK land bridge option.