Port of Long Beach, the 2nd busiest container port in the USA, second only to the other San Pedro Bay port of Los Angeles, recorded its 2nd busiest October in history when it handled 789,716 TEUs in October 2021.
This figure is down 2.1% from the Port’s strongest October on record which was in October 2020 when it handled 806,603 TEUs. A news release from the Port of Long Beach attributed this drop to limited capacity at the marine terminals which hampered imports at the Port of Long Beach in October, although volumes were still strong amid an ongoing transition to extended operating hours.
The extending operating hours was initiated on the back of the port expanding truck pick up and drop off hours working towards a 24/7 operation spurred on by pressure and action from the Biden administration to each the supply chain disruption.
Imports decreased 4.3% to 385,000 TEUs in October 2021 compared to 2020, while exports increased 6.6% to 122,214 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the Port declined 2.4% to 282,502 TEUs.
In the release, “Every sector of the supply chain has reached capacity and it is time for all of us to step up and get these goods delivered,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “In Long Beach, we are trying to add capacity by searching for vacant land to store containers, expanding the hours of operation at terminals, and implementing a fee that will incentivize ocean carriers to pull their containers out of the Port as soon as possible.”
Current data from the Port of Long Beach shows around 20,534 containers for local delivery sitting in the port for over 9+ days which is a high number but is 20% less than what it was at the end of October 2021.
“We are working around the clock at the Port,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “We’re doing everything we can with help from the supply chain to get goods off the ships and onto store shelves in time for the holidays.”
There are still around 70+ container ships anchored off the West Coast of America waiting for berth at Long Beach and/or Los Angeles.
The Port of Long Beach implemented a Congestion Dwell Fee effective the 1st of November 2021 charging ocean carriers for cargo containers that remain too long in the marine terminals. The program is aimed at speeding the flow of cargo containers moving through the San Pedro Bay ports complex and reducing a record number of vessels waiting off the Southern California coast. As of Nov. 10, there has been a 20% decrease in loaded import containers that have dwelled at the Port of Long Beach past their respective time limits. The Port of Los Angeles has adopted an identical measure.
There has been different opinions in the market among BCOs, Carriers and Freight Forwarders whether this Congestion Dwell Fee is justified and who will eventually bear the cost although it is being charged to the Carriers. Several carriers have already advised that these will be passed on to the customers eventually.
In the release, the Port of Long Beach stated “Consumer spending slightly lagged in early fall, but remains above pre-pandemic levels. Employment is rebounding more quickly than the periods following the dot-com bust and the Great Recession, with full jobs recovery anticipated by mid-2022.”
From Jan 2021 to Oct 2021, the Port of Long Beach has handled 7,884,565 TEUs which is an increase of 21% from the same period in 2020. The new release confirms that the Port is on target to handle more than 9 million TEUs by the end of this year, surpassing the current record of 8.1 million TEUs achieved in 2020.