Port of Oakland first half 2021 total cargo volume increased 11.4 percent over 2020 and forecasters envision no letup.
The Port reported recently it handled the equivalent of 1.3 million 20-foot containers in the past six months. If the pace holds, the Port’s year-end volume would surpass 2.6 million containers for the first time ever.
“We’ve never seen this level of activity and based on the outlook we’re preparing for more,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Our challenge is serving customers who expect us to handle their cargo efficiently.”
The Port said a year-long boom in containerized U.S. imports is driving record business. It said the trend should continue based on three factors:
- Record freight rates being charged by container shipping lines indicating high demand for vessel space;
- Rising U.S. inflation that signals continued strong consumer spending on goods manufactured overseas; and
- The upcoming August-November peak season when retailers and distributors stock up for holiday merchandising.
According to the Port, containerized import volume in Oakland has increased year-over-year for five consecutive months. Oakland reported that June 2021 imports were up 15 percent compared to the same period last year. Exports edged up 0.8 percent, the Port said.
Ports nationwide have reported difficulty keeping up with the unprecedented cargo surge. On average, vessels are loading and unloading 66 percent more cargo in Oakland than they did last year. One consequence has been cargo delivery delays. Oakland said it expects delays to ease by late summer with the addition of more dockworkers.