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East Coast-West Coast Cargo Competition Heats Up

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey‘s seaport was the busiest in the nation in August and marked 25 straight months of monthly cargo growth.

PANYNJ reported that volumes across its facilities in August remained at or below pre-pandemic levels, with the exception of the seaport, which handled a double-digit increase of cargo volume compared to pre-pandemic August 2019.

At the seaport, 24.1 percent more total cargo moved through the port in August compared to the volume handled during August 2019, making the month the busiest August in the port’s history and the Port of New York and New Jersey as the busiest in the United States in total containers handled for the month.

PANYNJ moved 843,191 20-foot containers or equivalent units (TEU) in August 2022. The month also marked more than two years of consecutive monthly record-high activity. Cargo volume increased by 8.6 percent compared to July, when the seaport handled 776,167 TEU.

On the West Coast, cargo volume in August at the Port of Long Beach fell just short of another record month.

Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 806,940 TEU of container cargo last month, down 0.1 percent from August 2021, which was the busiest August ever. Imports were down 5.6 percent to 384,530 TEU and exports increased 1.6 percent to 121,408 TEU.

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“We’re making great strides in reducing the number of ships queuing to enter the San Pedro Bay ports complex and quickly moving imports and empty containers out of the terminals,” said Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero. “We are collaborating with stakeholders to provide more information, more space and more flexibility across the supply chain.”

The Port of Long Beach has broken monthly cargo records in six out of the last eight months. The port has moved 6,600,560 TEU during the first eight months of 2022, up 4 percent from the same period last year.

After record-breaking cargo volume in 2021 and the first half of 2022, the import surge at the Port of Los Angeles slowed in August. The port handled an estimated 806,000 TEU in August, approximately 15 percnt less than the same period a year earlier.

“Some goods that usually arrive in August the for the fall and winter season shipped earlier to make sure they reached their destination in time,” Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said at a news briefing. “Additionally, inflationary concerns and elevated inventory levels have made some retailers and e-commerce sellers more cautious. We’ve been able to nearly eliminate the backlog of ships waiting to enter the port by 90 percent compared to earlier this year. We’ve got capacity on our terminals and the ability to handle cargo coming in more efficiently than last holiday season.”

Seroka estimated that August loaded imports reached an estimated 404,000 TEU compared to the previous year, a decrease of about 17 percent. Loaded exports reached an estimated 100,000 TEU, a 1 percent drop compared to last August.

Eight months into 2022, the Port of Los Angeles has moved an estimated 7.2 million TEU, down about 1.6 percent from last year’s record pace.