After a record January, container volumes recently issued by the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) respectively saw new records set again, in February, according to data issued by each port.

POLA’s total volume in February – at 857,764 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) – represented a 7.3% annual increase, for the highest February in the port’s 115-year history, surpassing the previous record set in February 2020.

POLA’s imports in February, at 424,073 TEUs, rose 2.4% year-on-year, and exports loaded, at 95,441 TEUs, fell 5.7% as exports fell in 36 of the 40 last months, at POLA. Empty containers saw an increase of 18.6%, to 338,251 TEUs, with POLA attributing the increase to continued high demand levels in Asia.

Year-to-date through February, POLA’s volume, at 1,723,360 TEUs, is up 5.4% annually.

POLA executive director Gene Seroka said on a media conference call this week that February volumes were exceptionally high.

“The fluidity and speed on our docks continues to improve,” he said. “Like January, February was another record month. Growth continues to be driven by imports and the repositioning of empty containers. Even with the price hike we’re all experiencing, we expect to see strong levels of imports this spring as e-commerce retailers replenish low inventory, including gains in February retail sales figures, which underlines the strength of this market.

Addressing empty containers, Seroka said repositioning to Asia continues at record highs, which is reflected in February data.

“While there will be robust activity at the docks this spring, it will be difficult to match last year’s numbers,” he said. “In 2021, for March, April and May, POLA averaged 970,000 TEU per month. Expect these numbers to soften but remain strong.

POLB data: February POLB volume – at 796,560 TEUs – increased 3.2% year-on-year, setting a new record in February, following a record high in January.

Imports increased by 4.4% per year, to 390,335 TEUs, and exports, to 117,935 TEUs, decreased by 1.2%. Empty containers increased by 3.5%, to 288,290 TEUs.

POLB officials said that although trade generally slows in February as factories in East Asia close for up to two weeks to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the port was busier than usual due continued work to clean up shipping terminals and reduce the number of ships waiting to enter. The port. And they added that the effort had been bolstered by the return of workers to the supply chain following a drop in COVID-19 cases.

“We are moving record amounts of cargo and catching up with the continued increase in imports,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are proceeding with measures that we will need in the long term, such as the development of our Supply Chain Information Highway data solution, which provides greater freight visibility, connectivity and predictability.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics management, Modern material handlingand Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight forwarding and material handling industries on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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