Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Port of Tacoma Annual Container Volumes Up Sharply

Double-digit growth in both imports and exports resulted in a nearly 16-percent gain in container volumes at the Port of Tacoma in 2012, according to newly released data. Also, breakbulk cargo volumes were 68 percent higher for the year.

The Port of Tacoma had its best year for TEUs since 2008; it handled 1.71 million TEUs in 2012, up from 1.47 million in 2011.

Full containerized imports improved more than 27 percent for the year to 611,085 TEUs, something the port attributes to strong demand for auto parts, furniture, toys and sporting goods. Agricultural products and bulk commodities like scrap paper helped push full export container volumes up almost 22 percent for the year to 457,078 TEUs.

The increased container volumes reflect the addition of the Grand Alliance and its associated carriers in July, as well as significantly stronger volumes from established customers. The new Grand Alliance services helped increase container vessel calls by 10 percent.

December marked an unusually robust month for container volumes: port terminals handled 176,658 TEUs, a 45 percent increase over December 2011. The strong volumes are being attributed in part to cargo diverted from Southern California ports during the eight-day labor strike in late November and early December. Shippers also appear to be diverting some cargo to West Coast ports as uncertainty continues regarding labor negotiations on the East and Gulf coasts, according to Tacoma data.

For the second straight year, Tacoma’s breakbulk volumes improved 68 percent. Strong demand overseas for construction and agricultural equipment, and more calls by larger roll-on/roll-off vessels boosted breakbulk volumes to nearly 260,000 short tons.

Additional 2012 cargo results from Tacoma include 30 percent growth in intermodal lifts, reflecting the port’s growing container volumes; and an almost four percent increase in total tonnage to nearly 18 million tons.

Not all the news was good, however; auto imports fell almost nine percent from the 2011 volumes, due partially to diverted imports; log exports declined 35 percent as demand from Asia slowed; and grain exports dropped 19 percent due in part to a drought in the U.S. Midwest.

For 2013, the port has forecast 14 percent growth in container volumes, along with a seven percent boost in auto imports and moderate gains in grain and log exports.

All 2012 Tacoma cargo totals can be viewed at the port’s website: http://www.portoftacoma.com/Page.aspx?nid=155.