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May volumes are solid for Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
June 18, 2014

May volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) released this week were solid.

POLA reported that total volumes were up 8.2 percent annually at 689,141 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units).

POLA imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, came in at 351,403 TEU for a 7.75 percent annual increase. Exports headed up 2.3 percent to 158,473 TEU, and empty containers were up 15 percent at 179,265 TEU.

On a year-to-date basis, total volumes for POLA are up 8.2 percent at 3,315,788 TEU. And May’s total output at 689,141 TEU is ahead of the three-year average for the last three totals for May over 2011, 2012, and 2013, which is 687,045 TEU.

“We are very pleased with both our volumes in May and volumes on a year-to-date basis,” said POLA Director of Media Relations Phillip Sanfield. “We are tracking monthly (for June) at 8.2 percent, as well as year-to-date. The volumes seem to be returning to the port following the downturn of 2008-2009. We are seeing retailers replenish their inventory, with consumer confidence up and imports climbing and gains in exports, too, due to the U.S. dollar.”

He also cited new services at the port along with larger vessels being added by shipping lines serving the port as growth factors. Another driver stems from retailers moving cargo earlier than usual as contracts are being finalized between shipping lines and cargo owners to hedge their bets due to the ongoing West Coast port labor negotiations between the International Longshore Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, with a pending deadline for negotiations at the end of June.

POLA saw cargo increases in April along with May and could see more in June, too, he said, adding that the port hopes there is not a labor disruption and things go smoothly, while acknowledging some of the gains so far are likely attributable to cargo moving early.

Total POLB volumes for May were up 2.7 percent at 599,509 TEU for its busiest May performance since 2007, when it hit 606,256 TEU.

Imports were up 2.3 percent at 312,439 TEU, and exports were down 0.3 percent at 146,072 TEU, with empties up 7.1 percent at 140,368.

May represented the second straight month of volume growth at POLB, with volumes up 1.3 percent for the first five months of 2014 at 2,692,618 TEU.

KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Todd Fowler wrote in a research note that volumes at both ports are “likely benefiting from pull-forward shipment activity ahead of mid-year port labor discussions, signal increasingly positive import activity, in our view, adding that current trends are consistent with other datapoints and anecdotal commentary suggesting a gradually improving demand environment.

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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