“We’ve been cautiously optimistic about 2017 cargo volumes and this is a solid start to the year,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said in a statement. “In particular, we’re gratified by the continued success in our export business.”
The port said last month it handled:
• 73,352 TEUs of loaded export containers, up 9 percent from January 2016;
• 80,443 TEUs of loaded import containers, up 3.6 percent;
• 26,339 TEUs of empty export containers, down 10.5 percent;
• And 17,178 TEUs of empty import containers, up 2.2 percent.
The Norther California port said agricultural commodities continue to drive increases in exports. Strong harvests and aggressive marketing helped boost overseas sales of California almonds last month, it said.
In the January issue of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association's monthly newsletter, Jock O'Connell of Beacon Economics noted, "Today, California accounts for 100 percent of the nation’s exports of table grapes, raisins, figs, dried plums, kiwis, dates, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios."
"Oakland’s share of U.S. nut export tonnage soared between 2005 and 2015, when the port handled 81 percent of all almond exports and 94 percent of all walnut exports from U.S. ports," he added. "That dominance was not always the case. As recently as 2005, Oakland’s share of U.S. nut exports was just over 43 percent, followed by Houston at 22 percent, and Los Angeles/Long Beach at 18 percent. Ten years later, Houston’s share had fallen to 4 percent, Los Angeles/Long Beach held steady at 18 percent, but Oakland’s jumped to almost 68 percent."
The port attributed the increase in imports to U.S. shippers stocking inventories ahead of Lunar New Year holidays.
The port was founded Feb. 12, 1927 and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf declared this past Sunday, Feb. 10, "Port of Oakland Day." Schaaf has a personal connection to the Port of Oakland as well - before entering politics, she served as the port's public affairs director.
The Port of Oakland is an independent department of the City of Oakland. In addition to the seaport, one of the 10 busiest in the nation, it also manages Oakland International Airport, the second busiest airport in the San Francisco Bay area and a commercial real estate portfolio that includes Jack London Square, a restaurant and entertainment district that abuts Oakland's inner harbor.