Port of Long Beach sees August volume dip, but year-to-date still up.

A COSCO Shipping vessel at Pier J at the Port of Long Beach (Photo: Port of Long Beach)

But second largest port in U.S. sees year-to-date volumes higher. 

The Port of Long Beach saw August container volumes slip, the second month in a row, due to the reshuffling of port calls by major alliances. But 2018 is still trending higher than last year, thanks in part to shipper fears of tariffs.

Long Beach, the second largest container port by volume in the U.S., reported overall container volume fell just under 2% from a year ago to 679,543 twenty foot equivalent units (teu) for August.

The decline was led by loaded inbound volumes, which fell 3.6% to 343,029 teus. Loaded outbound rose close to 2.% to 119,546 teus. The Port noted the tough comparable to last year as August 2017 was the third-busiest month ever. It said that record has already been exceeded three times since.


 ( Source: Port of Long Beach )
( Source: Port of Long Beach )

The August dip comes despite what has been an overall strong year for the port with year-to-date volumes of 5.3 million teus 9.4% higher than last year. 

Long Beach saw its busiest month at the start of June with total container volume hitting 752,188 teu. The volume spike appeared to briefly overwhelm surface freight in the region as carriers rejected an increasing amount of loads tendered by shippers.

The Local Tender Reject Index for Los Angeles, available on SONAR under ticker CTRI.LAX, shows local carriers rejecting nearly 20% of tendered loads at the start of June. The City Tender Reject Index measures the percentage of loads rejected to total loads tendered.  

Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero says the decline in container volume is due to a realignment of ocean carrier alliance services and port calls. But he says container traffic overall may have gotten a  boost “as shippers act to beat duties imposed on goods this summer.” 

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.