Freight News, Sea

Port of Oakland fruit, veggie cargo up 36% in four years

[ April 26, 2018   //   ]

Port of Oakland containerized fresh fruit and vegetable shipments have jumped 36% since 2013.  The port said further gains are likely as it adds capacity to handle temperature-controlled cargo.

About $6.1 billion worth of containerized fruit and veggie shipments moved through Oakland in 2017, the port said. The volume equaled 135,000 TEU.  The port’s volume was less than 80,000 containers just four years ago. 

“This is high-value cargo that has to be handled carefully and shipped promptly,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.  “Growth in our volume would indicate that we’re doing the job effectively.”

Exports accounted for 103,000 containers of Oakland’s 2017 fresh fruit and vegetable cargo volume.  That was a 44% increase from four years ago.  Fruit and vegetable imports jumped 16%. 

The port said oranges and grapes were among top exports.  Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were leading export markets.

The data is watched closely because Oakland is considered one of the country’s most important agricultural gateways.  The reasons:

  • Oakland is adjacent to major growing regions in the Central, Napa and Salinas valleys. 
  • Producers export through Oakland because it’s the last U.S. destination before outbound vessels head to Asia.  That means their cargo isn’t delayed at intermediate stops.

The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said that Oakland shipped 42.3% of America’s 2017 fruit and nut exports to China.  It handled 93% of wine exports.

The port said it expects fruit and vegetable shipments to grow because it’s improving the ability to handle temperature-controlled cargo.  Refrigerated export containers are now being delivered principally at night to Oakland’s largest marine terminal.  That speeds up handling and wait-time for sensitive cargo by avoiding busier dayside operations.  Oakland’s second-largest terminal is adding hundreds of electrical plug-in spaces for refrigerated containers this summer.  That means it can safely store more perishable cargo until the containers are loaded on vessels.

Exports make up half of the Port of Oakland’s total cargo volume.  Farm goods account for 40-to-50% of the port’s total exports.