Port of Oakland import volume jumped 12.6 percent last month

Biggest September in port's history as peak season kicks in

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New statistics out today show that containerized import volume at the Port of Oakland increased 12.6 percent last month.  The port reported that it handled the equivalent of 79,135 20-foot import containers.  A search of records indicates that it was the largest September import volume in the port’s history.

“This is the peak season for container shipping, when we expect higher import volumes ahead of the year-end holidays,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.  “We’re pleased to see the pace of activity picking up.”

According to port data, last month’s import surge topped the previous September record of 77,071 containers.  That was set back in 2006.

The port said that import volume is up 4.1 percent year-to-date compared to 2016.  It added that the higher volume reflects increased spending by U.S. consumers on overseas goods. 

Ports nationwide typically handle more containerized imports in the August-through-October period.  That’s the time when retailers stock up for holiday sales.  Most imports arriving in Oakland originate in Chinese or Southeast Asia factories.

The port reported that total September container volume – which measures imports, exports and empty containers - increased 12.7 percent.  But records show that the number of vessels visiting Oakland decreased 3.6 percent in that period.  The port said shipping lines are delivering more cargo to Oakland on fewer but larger ships.  

This is not always the ideal situation for many ports, says Sal Ferrigno, vice president of SSA Terminals, who warned that dockside labor may not be able expedite cargo discharge.

At the recent annual meeting of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) in Long Beach, Ferrigno noted that mega vessels are often more efficient.

“It’s often  easier for terminals to handle a big ship staying there for four days versus two ships working at the same time for two days,” he said.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [ protected]

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