Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Not All Doom and Gloom for Shipping as Two Ports Report Increased Freight Tonnages

Oakland and Zeebrugge Both Looking Good
Shipping News Feature
UK – BELGIUM – US – While the collapse of Hanjin and poor freight rates on containers is still a major concern for the freight industry globally, two ports on different continents are reporting that they are confident in the future and reporting improved cargo figures, one of them concerned principally with that very deep sea trade. In the US the Port of Oakland has released new figures showing sizable increases in fruit, nut and meat exports destined primarily for Asia. The agricultural surge has lifted Oakland total export volume 10% over 2015 levels through October.

The Port attributed much of its export growth to the rise of Asia’s middle class with consumers with newfound purchasing power clamouring for higher-quality American farm products and said much of the increase comes from a 30% rise in shipments of edible fruits and nuts. The Port exported the equivalent of 65,600 20-foot containers full of those products through September. That was up from 50,306 TEU a year ago. Grain and seed shipments increased 35% in that period and meat exports climbed by 15%. Beth Frisher, the Port’s Manager of Business Development and International Marketing said:

“We’re seeing a favourable confluence of events. Demand for high-quality US agricultural commodities is growing and producers here have been able to respond thanks to good harvests and higher yields.”

Oakland is unusual in that exports make up 52% of its total laden container volume whilst imports account for the other 48%. The near 50-50 split in cargo mix is unique, according to the Port, with other major US ports heavily skewed toward imports, reflecting the country’s $36.4 billion trade deficit.

Meanwhile in Europe P&O Ferries has formally opened its expanded terminal at Zeebrugge which doubles its capacity at the Belgian port to 700,000 units a year. The expansion expands P&O’s hub by 14 hectares, gives the terminal a fourth berth and has significantly enhanced the company’s rail infrastructure in the port.

The company this year celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in the Belgian port and currently operates services across the North Sea to Tilbury, Hull and Teesport respectively; it also operates incoming rail services to the Belgian port from Central and Eastern Europe.

Last month the company announced that the number of freight units it transported between Zeebrugge and Teesport in the third quarter of this year had grown by 16% year on year. In the same quarter, the number of freight units which the company shipped between Gothenburg and Britain - courtesy of its partnership with SOL via Zeebrugge - almost doubled compared with 2015. Helen Deeble, Chief Executive of P&O Ferries, said:

"As the British economy continues to grow, we have made this investment because we have confidence that we can provide a one-stop transport solution for continental exporters who want to do business with the hugely important UK market.”

Photo: The new P&O terminal is opened.