Wednesday, April 14, 2021

US Port Offers Snapshot of Rising Container Traffic Levels Through March

Record TEU Volumes Recorded in Wake of Pandemic
Shipping News Feature

US – The global pandemic has had a massive impact on all levels of business throwing those whom love to analyse traffic volumes into confusion. This week the Port of Oakland provided a snapshot of how exactly container shipping is presenting an unfamiliar picture.

According to the California port a trade boom has ‘exploded’ there with all-time high container volume for import and export cargo in the month of March. The Port received the equivalent of 97,538 20-foot import containers in March. It said it shipped out the equivalent of 94,169 20-foot export boxes. Both totals were single-month records at the 94-year-old Port. March imports were up 45% from the same month a year ago, the Port said. March 2020 was when the Port felt the initial impacts of the pandemic. Exports gained 12% year-over-year.

Oakland’s cargo boom mirrors a nearly year-long volume increase at many ports worldwide. The Port said its total volume is up nearly 9% through the first three months of 2021. It attributed the gains to three factors including the pandemic, with consumers consoling themselves with ‘lockdown therapy.

With the bulk of trade emanating from the Far East this makes perfect sense as China is the main manufacturing base for the trade meaning retailers have been rushing to replace depleted inventories Conversely on exports the US is meeting an ‘unrelenting demand’ for US products, particularly farm goods. In the case of Oakland the cause was aided in March by introduction of a first-call vessel service. The new weekly service from French carrier CMA-CGM makes Oakland its first call. US Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes remarked:

“Ships are full, ocean freight rates are sky high and the need for empty containers to ship more cargo is never-ending. We just don’t see conditions easing in the next several months.”

Oakland’s March export performance was particularly noteworthy, the Port said. It followed two months of export volume decline blamed on a dearth of vessel space to transport containers. The Port is a major export gateway because of its proximity to California’s Central Valley.