POLA and POLB each set new January volume records

January container volumes recently respectively issued by the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) saw new records being set again, according to the ports.

Total January POLA volume—at 865,595 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units)—were up 3.6% annually, marking the highest-volume January in POLA’s 115 years of operations (topping the previous record set in January 2019, of 852,00 TEU, when cargo owners were trying to get ahead of tariff-driven deadlines), as well as a “new milestone” for a Western Hemisphere-based port, too.

POLA January imports—at 427,208 TEU—fell 2.4% annually, and loaded exports—at 100,185 TEU—fell 16%, with exports declining in 35 of the last 39 months, at POLA. Empty containers saw a 21.4% increase, to 338,202 TEU, with POLA attributing the increase to ongoing levels of Asia-based heavy demand.

On a media conference call last week, POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka said that POLA volumes are off to a strong start in 2022.

“Strong consumer demand continues to drive imports,” said Seroka. “Retail sales jumped 3.8%, from December to January. The early Lunar New Year, which began on February 1, created a rush of cargo to get out of Asia before the holiday slowdown. And we continue to reposition a tremendous [number] of empty containers, as demand for those boxes remains high.”

Seroka added that POLA saw two trends continue in January.   

The first one was that nearly half of the 87 vessels the port welcomed were less than 5,300 TEU in capacity, a 24% increase in smaller ships compared to January 2021. The move to smaller vessels began in the second half of 2021.

Secondly, he said that 24 of those 87 vessels were ad hoc, or unscheduled.

“What has been added into the mix is a combination of smaller ships that have not been part of our traditional weekly service,” he said.

Port of Long Beach data: Total January POLB data—at 800,943 TEU—saw a 4.8% annual increase, marking the first time the port processed more than 800,000 TEU in January and topping the previous record set in January 2021.

POLB imports—at 389,334 TEU—increased 6.9%, and exports—at 123,060 TEU—saw a 5.9% annual gain. Empty containers—at 288,550 TEU—rose 1.8%.

“Terminal capacity is finally opening up thanks to support from our federal and state leadership, collaboration with industry partners, and the hard work of the men and women moving record amounts of cargo off the docks,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement. “We expect to remain moderately busy into the spring as we make significant progress to clear the docks and process the backlog of vessels waiting off shore.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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