POLA and POLB July volumes trend in different directions

Total POLA volume––at 912,154 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units)––was up 9.43% annually and hit a new single month volume record for the fourth consecutive month, and total July POLB volume––at 621,780 TEU­––saw a 9.7% annual decline.

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July volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) respectively saw ups and downs, according to data issued by the ports this week.  

Total POLA volume––at 912,154 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units)––was up 9.43% annually and hit a new single month volume record for the fourth consecutive month, in addition to becoming the highest-volume July in the 112-year history of the port and the fourth time POLA volumes has topped 900,000 TEU.

July POLA imports––at 476,438 TEU––headed up 8.7% annually, and exports––at 161,340 TEU––decreased 4%. Empty containers saw a 20.7% increase to 274,376 TEU.

“Container exchange per vessel reached 9,915 TEUs, the highest and most efficient level we’ve ever experienced,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a statement. “Despite the continued decline in exports and high level of uncertainty driven by trade tensions, we continue to optimize our facilities and are grateful for the support and confidence of our supply chain partners.”

Through the first seven months of 2019, POLA volumes are up 6% annually at 5,540,792 TEU.

Total July POLB volume––at 621,780 TEU­––saw a 9.7% annual decline. Imports––at 313,350 TEU––dropped 9.9%, and exports––at 111,654 TEU––decreased 6.8%. Empties fell 11% to 196,777 TEU.

“The trade war is hitting the West Coast hard,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero in a statement. “For more than a year, the supply chain has bent under the weight, and there’s very little give left. If the tariffs continue and escalate as planned next month, American consumers could see higher prices during the holiday season as businesses pass along their costs.”

Total POLB volumes through June––at more than 4.3 million TEU––are off 7.2% annually.

Industry stakeholders have told LM that tariffs increase uncertainty across the supply chain, resulting in shippers having to be prepared to see a reduction  in order volume only to have to ramp up capacity if a tariff is reduced or removed sparking increased demand.

In a research note, Todd Fowler, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, wrote that on a sequential basis cumulative July container import numbers at POLA and POLB accelerated more than anticipated, compared to what he called a “somewhat easier” June comparison, while up annually, albeit modestly, for the first time in two months.

“In our view, slightly stronger container import activity bodes well for upcoming peak shipping volumes, consistent with recent anecdotal commentary; however recent strength could restrict the pace of de-stocking, with inventories remaining somewhat elevated throughout the supply chain,” wrote Fowler. “Looking ahead, we believe import volumes could remain above seasonal trends in August given trade uncertainty, but note comparisons are particularly challenging in late 2019.”

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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