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POLA and POLB see benefits of early Lunar New Year in January volumes

Total POLA January volume was up 17.4 percent annually at 826,640 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), marking the highest-volume January in its 110-year history, and POLB January volumes rose 8.7 percent… By LM Staff

Both the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach posted impressive January volumes, according to monthly data recently issued by each port. 

POLA and POLB are the two largest North American ports, and they collectively account for more than 40 percent of U.S. imports.

Total POLA January volume was up 17.4 percent annually at 826,640 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), marking the highest-volume January in its 110-year history, beating January 2016’s 704,398 TEU, which was the previous January high. What’s more, January 2017 is now the second-best month ever for the port, with the 877,564 TEU from November 2016 at the top. These volumes are even more impressive, when taking into account that the over the last ten years, the average for January POLA volumes is 645,162 TEU

POLA exports saw a 28.7 percent annual increase to 162,420 TEU, and imports rose 13.1 percent to 415,423 TEU. Total loaded imports headed up 17.1 percent at 577,843 TEU, and empty containers were up 17.9 percent to 248,797 TEU.

POLA officials attributed the strong volume gains in January partially to retail stores replenishing inventories after the holidays, an increase in U.S. exports and cargo ships calling in advance of the Lunar New Year, a period in which exports from Europe usually slow down by a wide margin.

"Coming off our best year ever in 2016, it’s very encouraging to keep the momentum going into 2017,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a statement. “The Port remains diligent, along with our partners, in making the San Pedro Bay supply chain even more efficient through world-class infrastructure, innovative technology solutions and strategic use of resources.”

A POLA official recently told LM that over the last several months cargo moving into and out of POLA is moving with speed, efficiency, and reliability compared to just a few years ago, when he said the pace of cargo movement was crawling.

The improvements speak to changes the port has made for supply chain optimization tactics for things like chassis operations and turn times or working with various port stakeholders to ensure it can handle all of the cargo, which has proven to be effective, especially in recent months, with high cargo volume numbers and no major logistical issues.

POLB January volumes rose 8.7 percent annually to 582,689 TEU, with the port noting that it saw increased volumes due to its largest terminal and extra ships calling in advance of the Lunar New Year.

POLB exports increase 10.8 percent to 118,234 TEU, and imports at 298,990 TEU were up 7.4 percent. Empties headed up 9.6 percent to 165,465 TEU.

POLB said that its January growth was paced by its Pier T terminal, which is operated by Total Terminals International (TTI) and controlled by Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), the world’s second-largest ocean carrier. MSC’s TIL purchased a majority stake in the terminal following the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping last year.

Even though the January volume tally is impressive, POLB noted that January 2016 volumes were up 25 percent annually.

“It was a tough benchmark, so we’re very happy with the way the new year is starting in Long Beach,” said Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzmán in a statement. “This year, we’ll be laser-focused on furthering our new partnership with MSC and continuing to provide efficient and rapid service to all of our customers.”

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