Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Port of Long Beach Monthly Container Volumes Rise

The Port of Long Beach managed to put the brakes on continuing declines in container volumes last month by recording gains in the number of loaded inbound and outbound containers it moved.

Cargo container volumes at port terminals climbed in August, coinciding with the start of the peak season, when shipments begin arriving for end-of-the-year holiday shopping. Imports were up 2.9 percent last month compared to August 2011.

According to port data, terminals handled 274,977 20-foot equivalent container units of loaded inbound cargo last month, compared to 267,198 TEUs in August 2011. The port says the rise in August points to a slight recovery during peak season and the second half of the year.

Exports were also up in August, increasing 5.7 percent to 128,225 TEUs compared to 121,277 TEUs a year ago.

Overall, container volume through the port was up 1.4 percent in August. The total includes imports, exports and empty containers, which declined 4.9 percent. With imports exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods. With exports up, fewer empty containers moved back to Asia in August.

For the calendar year, overall container volumes at the port are down 4.6 percent, something that Long Beach blames on continuing weakness in the global economy as well as cutbacks in ship calls at the port by several niche vessel operators in late 2011 and early 2012.

Imports are down 4.6 percent and exports down 1.2 percent through August compared to the same period a year ago.

For the fiscal year, which began last October for the port and ends Sept. 30, container traffic is down almost 7.4 percent so far. During the 11-month period, Long Beach moved 5.34 million TEUs, compared to 5.77 million in the same time period during its previous fiscal year.

The volumes of loaded inbound, loaded outbound and empty containers are down 7.2 percent, about six percent and nine percent, respectively, compared with the first 11 months of the last fiscal year, according to port data.