Container traffic at the Port of Long Beach came back strongly this fall after a slow period earlier in the year. Imports in October increased 15.2 percent over October of 2011, exports were up 12.8 percent and total volume including all loaded and empty containers increased 8.7 percent.
Imports in Long Beach during the traditional peak-shipping season have been strong this year. For the period of August through October, imports were up 6 percent over the same period in 2011.
For the calendar year to date, imports in Long Beach are down 2.2 percent, exports are flat and total container volume, including empties, is down 3.2 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2011.
It appears that the introduction by Mediterranean Shipping Co. of a string of large containerships with capacities up to13,000 20-foot container units had an impact on port volumes in Long Beach this fall.
Other carriers have also introduced mega-ships with capacities of 8,000 TEUs and greater, and the port is engaged in an aggressive expansion program to accommodate the big ships. Long Beach will invest $4.5 billion over the next decade to build larger terminals, on-dock rail capacity and for roadway and bridge infrastructure.
As a port complex, Long Beach and Los Angeles registered a 6 percent increase in imports in October, which is higher than imports were trending much of the year. The spike could have been caused by a diversion of imports from the East Coast where the outcome of longshore labor negotiations has been uncertain.
Exports in the Southern California port complex in October increased only 1 percent from October 2011. Since U.S. exports tend to below-value commodities, it is too costly for many exporters to ship their containers via intermodal rail from the East to West Coast ports.