Thursday, August 22, 2013

Port of Tacoma Container Volumes Leveling Off

Nearly 1.1 million containers crossed Port of Tacoma docks through the first seven months of 2013, marking a 24 percent year-to-date increase, according to newly released data. Tacoma moved 1.07 million containers from January to July, compared with 868,000 during the same period in 2012.

However, despite the gains made, container volume growth appears to be moderating, as July 2013 was the first month in a year where Tacoma didn’t see a double digit jump in traffic compared with the corresponding month during the previous 12-month period.

Tacoma terminals saw a total of 146,017 TEUs in July, virtually identical to the number seen in July 2012. International volumes – imports and exports – had posted double-digit gains through the first six months of the year but grew only three percent last month, according to the port.

Domestic containers – those coming and going from Alaska and Hawaii – decreased from 43,715 in July 2012 to 40,354 last month. For the year, domestic volumes are down about one percent compared to the same seven months in 2012.

Tacoma says last month’s tempered growth was expected, since July marked the first month-over-month comparison that included the Grand Alliance in both the 2013 and 2012 volumes. The Grand Alliance is a consortium of three of the world’s largest shipping lines - Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong and Japanese company NYK Line - along with associated carrier ZIM Integrated Shipping of Israel.

In July 2012, the Alliance began three new calls each week at Washington United Terminals, having moved their business from the Port of Seattle. Since the shift, Tacoma has seen year-over-year container volume increases while Seattle has experienced the opposite.