Port of Long Beach Posts Record Volume for Third Time in Four Months

Third record volume in past four months
Photo courtesy Port of Long Beach

Published Nov 13, 2020 5:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Long Beach. California reported that it achieved yet another single-month record in October for the flow of containers through the port. October’s figures mark the third time in 2020 that the port has broken a record for cargo movements within a single month.

A total of 806,603 TEUs moved through the Port of Long Beach in October representing a more than 17 percent increase in trade. They surpassed the previous best month record which had been set in September 2020 by more than 11,000 TEUs. In July 2020 the port also set a new record with just over 753,000 TEUs.

“The peak holiday shipping season is supporting our ongoing recovery and record highs, but we are now facing a new wave of COVID-19 cases spreading across the country and remain locked in a trade dispute with China,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “We are optimistic about the gradual economic recovery while bracing for any shocks still to come.”

The surge in cargo comes as retailers continue to prepare for the holiday shopping season, a rise in e-commerce, and an increased demand for gardening equipment, pet supplies, and musical instruments the port said in detailing its results. A total of 94 container ships called at the port in October, 18 of which were unscheduled vessels that made up for voyages canceled earlier this year.

Imports jumped nearly 20 percent compared to October 2019 with 402,408 TEUs, but exports continue to be done.  The port reported a nearly 13 percent decline in the number of exports and further emphasizing the trade imbalance, empties heading overseas crew nearly 32 percent. Shippers and carriers have both been reporting that containers are in short supply and have been working to retrieve empties and reposition them within their networks.

“Our string of recent records show that our persistence and ability to work with industry and workforce partners allowed us to continue growing amid a critical time for our nation,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna. “The Port of Long Beach has a lengthy history of adapting to the needs of our customers during the best of times and the most difficult of times.”

Before the current record volumes experienced three of the past four months, the port had processed a similar level of 753,000 TEUs in June 2018.

In the first ten months of 2020, the port is now reporting a better than two percent gain in total volume to over 6.5 million TEUs. The gains in volume come from inbound traffic this year with the outbound loaded volume nearly flat year-over-year.