Cargo volumes in Southern California's two major container ports were little changed in 2012 over 2011, but Long Beach benefited as a service used by the world's three largest container carriers switched from a terminal in Los Angeles.
Terminals in the Port of Long Beach moved a total of 6.05 million
TEUs in 2012, down 0.3 percent from 2011. Imports were up 1.2 percent to 3.06
million TEUs. Exports were up 2.2 percent to 1.54 million TEUs. And
empties were down 5.6 percent to 1.44 million TEUs.
Volumes were boosted by a strong December - terminals handled a total of 560,120 TEUs an increase of 9.8 percent from December 2011. The port said it had its busiest-ever December for containerized imports, which rose 18.9 percent to 295,579 TEUs, up from 248,603 TEUs in
December 2011. Exports rose 4.9 percent to 135,561 TEUs for the month.
Empty containers slowed 2.4 percent to 128,980 TEUs. With imports
exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled
The port observed that "a busy December is not typical, as shippers use this time of year to import goods for the slower winter and spring retail seasons. But December 2012 capped a surge that made up for the year's lackluster start, ending in a virtual tie with 2011. The rise in container traffic came as more ocean carriers added services to Long Beach in recent months, including CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Co., two of the world's largest container shipping companies."
At the Port of Los Angeles, the port handled a total of 8.08 million TEUs in 2012, up 1.7 percent, including empties, from 2011. In December 2012, the port handled 588,154 TEUs, 9.4 percent less than in 2011.
"The good news is that we eclipsed the 8 million (TEU) mark," said Philip Sanfield, a spokesman for the port. "That is only the third time that we have done that. The last time was 2007." Ignoring empties, volumes were off slightly.
He said volumes were down, in part, because of the move of the TP8 service used by CMA CGM, MSC and Maersk last fall from Los Angeles to Long Beach. He also noted volumes may have been affected by the strike by longshore clerks.
For the current year, he said the port is forecasting modest single-digit growth. - Chris Dupin