POLB, POLA have mixed volume results in November

Specific factors drive respective volumes gains and losses at the Port of Long each and Port of Los Angeles, respectively.

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As has been the case in recent months, cargo activity at the nation’s two largest ports— the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB)—were mixed in November.

POLB imports, which are primarily comprised of consumer goods, at 278,534 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) in November hit its highest level for November imports in five years for a 20.2 percent annual gain. November imports were also ahead of October’s 276,698 TEU. Exports, which are primarily comprised of raw materials, increased 24.6 percent annually to 138,312 TEU, representing the second highest November in the last five years. 

POLB officials said that these increases are due in part to more ocean carriers adding services to Long Beach in recent months, including CMA CGM and MSC. And they added that POLB terminals handled a cumulative 555,513 TEU, which was 20.8 percent higher year-over-year.

On a year-to-date basis through November, imports are down 0.3 percent at 2,766,711, and exports are up 2.0 percent at 1,404,627, and empties are down 5.9 percent at 1,314,204. Total TEU through November are down 1.2 percent at 5,485,542.

Total November volumes at the Port of Los Angeles dropped 16 percent to 582,981.70 TEU. Imports fell 18.64 percent to 288,273.50, and exports fell 25.80 percent to 145,344.00. Empties rose 3.78 percent to 149,364.20. And total TEU through November at 7,489,560.10 is up 2.72 percent.

POLA staffers said that November’s decline was partially attributed to a vessel service shift from Los Angeles to Long Beach and cargo delays resulting from the first few days of the labor dispute which impacts both POLA and POLB earlier this month before a tentative agreement was struck.

November’s declines snapped a four-month stretch in which total POLA volumes surpassed the 700,000 TEU mark.

POLA Director of Communications Philip Sanfield told LM that along with the labor dispute the shifting of a vessel service from POLA to POLB also negatively impacted November volumes, as was the case when California United Terminals moved from POLB to POLA about a year ago.

And the labor dispute, he said, likely impacted POLA more so than POLB.

“The first day, November 27, shut down our largest container terminal, Pier 400, and then over the next three days seven of our eight container terminals were down,” he said. “That was basically three days of no cargo moving. We expect we may see some of that November cargo shows up in our December numbers as most of the cargo did get unloaded in the days after the strike, and moving forward we expect to see some softer numbers in the months ahead.”

Even though POLA is up 2.7 percent annually through the first 11 months of the year, Sanfield explained that there currently not a lot of growth in volumes between the POLA-POLB complex.

“This is mostly a reflection of the U.S. economy,” he said.

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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