Tuesday, December 18, 2012

POLB November Container Volumes Up Sharply

Despite a labor strike that wiped out a handful of days of productivity, container volumes at the Port of Long Beach rose steeply in November 2012, with imports up 20.2 percent and exports up 24.6 percent compared to the same month the previous year.

Port terminals handled 555,513 TEUs overall, an increase of 20.8 percent from November 2011, according to POLB data. This was despite a strike by International Longshore and Warehouse Union clerks that began Nov. 27 and lasted eight days.

The rise in container traffic came as more ocean carriers added services to Long Beach in recent months, including CMA CGM and MSC, two of the world’s largest container shipping companies.

Import container traffic rose to 278,534 TEUs, the highest November volume in five years. Export container traffic rose to 138,312 TEUs, the second highest November volume in five years. Empty container volumes rose 18.4 percent from a year ago to 138,667 TEUs. With imports exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.

After mostly declining traffic in the middle of the year, the late boost has helped bring port cargo volumes closer to 2011 levels. For the first 11 months of the year, imports were virtually flat compared to the same period a year ago, down 0.3 percent, and exports were up two percent. Overall container volumes were down 1.2 percent through November due mainly to a decline in empty container traffic, which was down 5.9 percent in the same period.

For the fiscal year to date however, the numbers have improved compared to last year. The number of loaded inbound, loaded outbound and empty containers shipped rose 17.6 percent, 18.5 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively, from the same period in 2011.

For FY 2012-2013, which began Oct. 1, Long Beach terminals have moved a total of 1.08 million TEUs so far, a 14.6 percent improvement over the same two months last year.