Freight News, Sea

Port of Oakland export volume jumped 15.4% in February

[ March 18, 2020   //   ]

Port of Oakland containerized export volume increased 15.4% last month over February 2019, according to data published today. It was the busiest February for export cargo in the past six years, the Port said. Oakland exports have now increased year-over-year in five consecutive months.

“It may be too soon to declare this a rally, but we’re encouraged by our export performance,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “It shows demand remains strong for our customers’ products.

The Port attributed much of the volume increase to growth in agricultural exports – especially refrigerated perishables. It singled out increased shipments of chilled and frozen meat products to Asian markets.

The cargo surge was welcome, given Oakland’s reputation as a top U.S. export gateway. The Port said exports account for 51% of its loaded container volume so far, in 2020. Imports account for 49% of the total.

The Port said its February import volume declined 9.2% compared to the same period last year. The drop was anticipated for two reasons:
• Cargo volume traditionally slumps following Lunar New Year holidays in Asia, where most Oakland imports originate.
• Chinese factory closures to combat coronavirus have reduced output of finished goods sent to the U.S. in containers.
Shipping lines have canceled 20 voyages to Oakland between February and April, the Port said. That’s a result of reduced demand for ship space because of China’s manufacturing downturn. Ocean carriers are scuttling dozens more sailings to ports worldwide through spring. The result is likely to be a decline in March import volume, as well, the Port said.