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Export growth paces October volumes for the Port of Los Angeles

A 28.14 percent annual hike in exports—at 193,548 TEU in—October represented the best monthly export performance ever for the port
By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 17, 2011

Spurred by strong export growth, October volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) were solid on a year-over-year basis on the heels of an uneven September the month before.

POLA imports—at 368,842 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) were up 5.52 percent annually and trailed September’s 372,655 TEU and August’s 376,189 TEU

But exports up 28.14 percent—at 193,548 TEU in—October represented the best monthly export performance ever for the port, with March 2011 being the second best month ever at 192,849 TEU. September and August exports hit 176,954 and 184,231, respectively. Empties were down 17.38 percent at 150,196.

Total October volume at POLA of 712,586 TEU was up 4.43 percent compared to October 2010. And on a year-to-date basis through October total TEU volume at 6,596,934 is up 0.68 percent.

“It was a great month for exports,” said POLA Director of Communications Philip Sanfield. “2010 was our best year ever for exports at 1.84 million TEU, and we may break that after November. Exports are becoming more of a factor, but there are a lot of economic things at play that influence that, with the value of the dollar at the top of the list. This has been a bright spot for sure in 2011.”

The export mix at POLA is primarily comprised of materials, including paper, paper board, waste paper at the top of the list, as well as fabric, raw cottons, and grain and other agricultural products, and scrap metal, among others.

Import growth at nearly 5.5 percent is strong, following recent months of lower annual growth.

“This is not to say there is still not a muted or limited Peak Season,” said Sanfield. “It is just that last year there was a huge spike in the summer months, and this year the numbers have been relatively flat month-to-month and on a year-to-date basis, too.”

This is in line with year-end expectations, with POLA expecting total annual TEU volume to be flat annually. But Sanfield noted that any month with 700,000 TEU or more is considered to be a strong month, so October’s total volume fits that description, especially when considering it is a peak month.

While POLA has a strong month, it appears the same may not be the case for its neighbors at the Port of Long Beach. According to preliminary numbers reported by the Los Angeles Times, imports in October were down 20.3 percent and exports were down 20.8 percent. Through September, the Los Angeles Times said that POLB exports through September were up 1.8 percent to 1.1 million TEU and exports were up 0.4 percent to 2.3 million TEU.

Sanfield said that one thing which may have inflated volume numbers at POLA to a degree was a switch from the California United Terminals from Long Beach to Los Angeles earlier this year.

“That has inflated our numbers a little bit, because had they not joined us we would probably be doing a bit less and Long Beach would be doing a bit more,” he said. “The cargo has moved homes basically, as opposed to it being all growth in the numbers.”

The Los Angeles Times report said that POLB is operating with six cargo terminals in 2011 instead of seven, with Hyundai moving to POLA and taking ten percent of total POLB cargo.

“Adjusting for inflation, we are on a pace to see the best year ever for California exports,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ international trade adviser, in the report. “We’ve got a fairly minimal exposure to the weaker markets in Europe, and we have benefited strongly from the weakness of the U.S. dollar, which makes U.S. products a bargain internationally.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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