LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Port of Los Angeles reported today that last month was the busiest January in the port’s 115-year history.
The port moved 865,595 20-foot equivalent units last month, 3.6% more than the previous January, according to Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.
“Many of the key data points that track the number of containers moving off our docks — and how quickly they depart — have improved significantly in recent weeks,” Seroka said. “Our record-breaking January reflects the great efforts of our longshore workers, truckers and terminal operators as we continue to focus on additional operational efficiencies in the months ahead.”
Seroka attributes the ongoing surge in imports arriving at the port to consumer online shopping demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 87 ships entered the port in January, with nearly half of them holding less than 5,300 20-foot equivalent units, marking a 24% increase in smaller ships entering the port compared to the previous January. The move to smaller vessels began in the second half of 2021, Seroka said. Twenty-four of the 87 vessels were ad-hoc or unscheduled and not part of the port’s traditional service.
Of the total units moved in January, 427,208 were imports, 100,185 were exports and 338,202 were empty containers returning to Asia. Exports declined 16% compared to the same month the previous year, marking the 35th in the last 39 months that exports have declined in Los Angeles.
“We must find a way to improve American exports, getting our farmers and manufacturers back into the international game. We’ve also been discussing the issue with the U.S. secretaries of commerce, agriculture and transportation, along with their key staffs. Additionally, we’ve had numerous meetings here in the state of California with officials and private sector stakeholders,” Seroka said Thursday.
On Jan. 24, the port announced a partnership with the International Dairy Foods Association to identify and address supply chain disruptions affecting dairy exports from the United States.
The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach have experienced major backlogs of ships waiting to get into the San Pedro Port Complex in recent months. Seroka said Thursday that there are 69 ships on their way to the ports, down from a high of 109 and marking the lowest amount since October.
The reduction is attributed to some factories in Asia slowing for the Lunar New Year, causing fewer ships to be sent here. Seroka added that many truckers, warehouse workers and dock workers who were out due to COVID-19 during the Omicron surge have started to return to work.
Seroka said the Container Dwell Fee, which has not gone into effect due to progress in reducing the number of containers at the terminals, has been a “key motivator” for companies to clear their containers from the docks.