Port of Long Beach sees volume declines in April
May 17, 2012
April volumes at the Port of Long Beach (POLB) were down 13 percent annually, according to data released by the port this week. Total January volume was 461,911 TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent units).
Imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, came in at 232,963 TEU and were down 13.8 percent. And exports—at 120,452 TEU—were down 16.2 percent. POLB exports are typically comprised of raw materials, including recycled paper that becomes packaging, cotton for clothing, plastic for toys, and leather hides for shoes and handbags.
Empty containers dipped 7.5 percent to 108,496 TEU.
POLB officials said that the decrease in April volumes is due in part to “the elimination of several niche service lines that had called at the Port last year.”
On a year-to-date basis through April, POLB volumes are down 5.8 percent to 1,768,514 TEU.
“We had a really strong March, and it seems like some of the business from the end of March took away from some of the business in April,” said POLB Assistant Director of Communications Art Wong. “It really is a flat period. Ships are so big that one can come in at the tail end of the month as opposed to the next one and make a big difference in the numbers. Things have been relatively week when you look at the first four months of the year.”
Even though the first four months of 2012 have been slow for POLA, port officials said that three new lines of vessels from Asia will begin calling at the port later this month. And these new services, said POLA, are expected to add up to 500,000 TEU through the remainder of this year.
Wong said these lines are from carriers that already serve POLA that are resuming seasonal services that typically kick into gear at this time of the year until the end of the fall, when holiday shipments are mostly delivered.
“These lines are actually coming back a bit later than they usually do,” said Wong. “The expectation from the shipping lines is that they seem to think that trade [activity] is going to pick up fairly soon.”
The recently published Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates is also expecting volume gains in the summer months through back-to-school season.
The report, which surveys six U.S.-based ports including POLB, is calling for June to be up 4 percent at 1.3 million TEU, and July is projected to see a 1.8 percent gain at 1.35 million TEU. August and September are expected to see 7.2 and 8.7 percent gains at 1.42 million TEU and 1.45 million TEU, respectively.
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