The Port of Long Beach is on the verge of processing more than 9 million cargo containers by the end of 2021 as efforts continue to make room for imports and deliver holiday goods as quickly as possible.
Dockworkers and terminal operators have moved more than 8.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units through November, already surpassing the current annual record of 8.1 million TEUs, set in 2020.
The Port processed 745,488 twenty-foot equivalent units last month, a 4.9% decline from the Port’s strongest November on record, achieved in 2020. Imports dropped 5.3% to 362,394 TEUs and exports decreased 6.4% to 109,821 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the Port were down 3.6% to 273,274 TEUs.
“Clearing the line of ships waiting to enter our port and moving containers off the docks are our top priorities to ensure shelves are stocked and consumers can purchase gifts during the holiday season,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We are seeing notable improvements toward achieving that goal as we continue to help our supply chain partners catch up and ensure goods are delivered as soon as possible.”
“We appreciate the enormous effort of our dockworkers who continue to move record-breaking amounts of cargo through 2021,” said Steven Neal, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “We intend to maintain our high level of service by working with stakeholders in the goods movement industry to ensure products are delivered swiftly and safely.”
There are 34 container vessels at anchor waiting to enter the San Pedro Bay ports complex, down from more than 80 last month, due to a new queuing process implemented in November by the Pacific Maritime Association, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the Marine Exchange of Southern California. The program has successfully improved safety by reducing the number of ships lined up along the coast while also improving local air quality.
A “Container Dwell Fee” was announced on Oct. 25, which would charge ocean carriers for cargo containers that remain too long on the docks. Since then, the fee has been postponed amid a 37% decline in aging cargo in San Pedro Bay terminals. The Port of Los Angeles has also adopted and postponed the fee.
The Port continues to take significant steps toward the efficient movement of goods, including: ongoing collaboration with marine terminals to expand hours of operation; creating temporary staging areas for full containers; and encouraging truck drivers to drop off export containers when picking up an import.
Nationally, the economy is booming despite concerns about elevated consumer inflation, stock market volatility and the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday retail sales to be slightly below the pre-pandemic high reached in 2019.
The Port of Long Beach has moved 8,630,053 TEUs during the first 11 months of 2021, up 18.3% from the same period in 2021.