Overstocked warehouses and a consumer spending shift contributed to an August “cargo lull” at the Port of Long Beach (POLB), Calif. Also, August was a “solid month” for the Port of Los Angeles, with imports and exports increasing; and the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) is establishing the Central Utah Agri-Park Project Area.
POLB on Sept. 13 reported a “modest start” to the traditional peak shipping season “as warehouses remained overstocked and consumers continued to pivot toward travel and other summertime activities.”
In August, dockworkers and terminal operators moved 682,312 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units), down 15.4% from the same month last year. Imports came in at 325,436 TEUs, down 15.4%, while exports were at 93,402 TEUs, down 23.1%. Empty containers moving through the port dropped 12.5% to 263,474 TEUs.
POLB said it moved 4,993,237 TEUs during the first eight months of this year, down 24.4% from the prior-year period. Cargo flows in 2023 “have been on pace with pre-pandemic levels,” when the port moved more than 4.9 million TEUs through August 2019, POLB noted.
“We anticipated a modest peak season as our cargo numbers continue to stabilize at pre-pandemic levels,” POLB CEO Mario Cordero said. “Over the long term we are strengthening our competitiveness by investing in digital and physical infrastructure projects that will keep goods moving efficiently for decades to come.”
“We are collaborating with our industry partners to grow market share while moving goods reliably and sustainably,” Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bobby Olvera Jr. said. “We intend to close the year on a positive note that focuses on our efforts to improve cargo flow and secure our position as the premier gateway for trans-Pacific trade.”
In a related development, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on Aug. 31 ratified the tentative contract agreement reached in June with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
“The contract ratification will have a hugely beneficial impact to the U.S. economy, which depends on our ports and the trade they facilitate,” Mario Cordera said when the contract was ratified. “The goods movement workforce and terminal operators provide the top-notch service that brings cargo from around the world to our docks. We’re proud to partner with the ILWU and PMA to move cargo through the nation’s largest trade gateway here in the San Pedro Bay. This contract will pave the way for the San Pedro Bay ports complex to competitively and sustainably keep the nation’s cargo and the nation’s economy moving.”
The Port of Los Angeles on Sept. 14 reported hauling 828,016 TEUs in August, a 3% increase over the same period last year and the first monthly year-over-year increase in 13 months.
Loaded imports in August came in at 433,224 TEUs, up 7% from 2022. Loaded exports landed at 124,988 TEUs, rising 22% from last year. Empty containers totaled 269,804 TEUs, a 10% year-over-year decline. Combined, August volumes were 828,016 TEUs, up 3% from August 2022.
Eight months into 2023, the Port said it has processed 5,649,686 TEUs, down 21% from the prior-year period. It noted, however, that August 2023 container counts may change subject to final verification.
“August was a very solid month with increases both on the import and export sides of our business,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka reported. “Overall, global trade has eased this year and we expect that trend to continue in the coming months. Operationally, Los Angeles stands ready with capacity we’re prepared to scale on demand.”
Regarding the recent ratification of the six-year contract between ILWU and PMA, Seroka commented: “With this contract in effect through 2028, you can continue to count on our longshore workers and terminal operators to keep cargo moving through the nation’s busiest port. When we are operating on all cylinders like we are right now, there’s no better choice for cargo than the Port of Los Angeles.”
The UIPA Board of Directors on Sept. 12 unanimously approved the Central Utah Agri-Park Project Area resolution for the six central Utah counties of Sanpete, Juab, Wayne, Millard, Piute and Sevier, creating Utah’s fifth inland port. The initiative is backed by the Six County Association of Governments and will offer access to Union Pacific and Interstate 15, according to UIPA.
“Anchored in Juab County, the Central Utah Agri-Park Project Area brings together a diverse array of partners, including the Utah Department of Ag and Food, Utah Food Producer Group, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah’s water agencies, federal and state land agencies, private sector entities, and many others,” UIPA Executive Director Ben Hart said.
The following areas within the Central Utah Agri-Park Project Area are now under consideration:
- Current Creek Industrial Park: Located three miles west of Interstate 15 via SR 54, this industrial park is said to offer easily accessible land with proximity to Mona and Nephi. “With potential rail access and affordable electricity, it presents opportunities for manufacturing, distribution and access to the North American rail network,” UIPA said.
- Nortonville Rail Site: Juab County’s newest rail-served facility, constructed in 2019-20, specializes in the transloading of coil and roll-formed products. According to UIPA, its location near Interstate 15 “positions it well for sustainable economic growth.”
- Six County Agri-Park: “This flagship component of the Central Utah Agri-Park Project Area is designed to empower family farms and enhance food security,” UIPA said. “Combining rail and highway infrastructure, it facilitates the production, processing and transportation of goods both within Utah and to external markets.”
According to UIPA, the Agri-Park project encompasses several existing rail-served facilities, including Canyon Fuel Company Coal Loadout, Central Utah Grain, Redmond Minerals, Azomite Minerals, and John Kuhni Sons Inc.