Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach post solid August volumes

Imports lead the way at both ports, while exports show sequential declines.

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Volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and Port of Long Beach (POLB) continued to post strong year-over-year numbers in August.

POLB imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, came in at 311,240 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) in August for a 24.5 percent annual gain. And exports, which are primarily comprised of raw materials, were down 3.5 percent to 126,039 TEU.

Total POLB shipments—including 173,723 empty TEU for a 54.0 percent uptick—at 611,002 TEU—were up 23.9 percent compared to a year ago. POLB officials said that imports in August hit their highest level since November 2007 and are near the peak levels hit in 2007.

POLA imports—at 399,150—were up 23.34 percent year-over-year, and exports—at 147,608—were down 1.82 percent. Total POLA shipments for August—including 217,077 empty TEU for a 56.61 percent annual gain—at 763,837 TEU were up 24.69 percent year-over-year.

POLA officials noted that August marked the third straight month total volume was north of 730,000 TEU.

With the surge of imports driven by the high demand for empty equipment in Asia, empty container exports surpassed loaded container exports once again this month, POLA officials said
POLA also said that there were 16 additional vessel calls in August, with most at full capacity.

POLA Director of Communications Phillip Sanfield told LM that overall the port was very pleased with August volumes.

“August was our best month of the year for imports,” said Sanfield. “That is a positive sign for us. A lot of the anticipation out there was that we peaked in terms of imports in July, but August was roughly 30,000 TEU better. There may be a little more left to our Peak Season than previously anticipated. We are still in the third quarter and are hoping to finish with something close to this in September. That would make for an exceptionally strong rebound. We are back to pre-recession levels in some respects.”

For calendar year 2010, POLA is up 17.91 percent at 5,158,282 TEU.

Sanfield said the port is still expecting things to remain strong during the remainder of the third quarter, with end of the inventory replenishment cycle not yet complete.

Sanfield added that it is highly likely retailers have been replenishing their inventories and ordering earlier for the holiday season this year. And he said there has been a backlog of shipments from out of China, which is not yet done at this point. But between now and the end of September, current conditions at the POLA are likely to remain intact and will remain much stronger than they were a year ago.

J.P. Morgan analyst Tom Wadewitz wrote in a research note that growth of inbound freight traffic at both ports decelerated in August but is still strong

“The July 15 reduction in Chinese export VAT (value added tax) rebates may have provided a temporary boost to China export activity in July, as well as LA/LB inbound volumes in July,” wrote Wadewitz. “Thus, the deceleration in August may not have been as great as it appears optically.”

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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