Friday, May 23, 2014

Tacoma Container Volumes Continue Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Tacoma said May 19 that it experienced double digit growth in year-over-year container volumes last month, thanks in part to larger vessels and an early jump on the traditional peak shipping season.

Volumes improved 10.4 percent in April compared to the same month last year, according to newly released port data.

The larger vessels calling Tacoma terminals brought additional cargo across the docks last month, according to the port, plus some shippers began moving cargo ahead of the peak season in an effort to avoid possible supply chain disruptions due to contract negotiations with West Coast dockworkers in the US Negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association began May 12; the current six year contract expires June 30.

For the calendar year to date, the port’s container volumes have improved three percent to 633,225 TEUs, according to data. Full containerized imports grew five percent on the year to 238,672 TEUs, while exports posted a four percent gain to 184,823 TEUs. Domestic volumes, however, were down one percent from the same four months in 2013.

Grain exports improved 31 percent year to date to 1.8 million short tons. Volumes appear to be returning to normal, the port said, following last year’s severe drought in the US Midwest and increased competition from South America.

Auto imports and break bulk cargo continued to post year-to-date increases, up 14 percent and 28 percent respectively. Log exports fell 32 percent as the housing market slowed in China and intermodal lifts continued to be down 11 percent.