The Port of Long Beach blamed shifts in consumer demand and shipping patterns for the 28.4% year-over-year drop in January container volume.
“We are taking aggressive steps to meet a new set of challenges for the new year,” said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Southern California port, in a news release. “I remain optimistic that we will recapture market share and develop projects that will enhance our long-term growth, sustainable operations and the reliable movement of goods through the Port of Long Beach.”
The port moved 573,772 twenty-foot equivalent units in January. That’s down 28.4% from last year, which was the Port of Long Beach’s busiest January on record.
January imports dropped 32.3% year over year to 263,394 TEUs and exports declined 14.2% to 105,623 TEUs. The number of empty containers moved decreased 29% to 204,755 TEUs, according to the latest statistics released by the port.
“Softened consumer spending, increased prices driven by inflation and a shift in trade routes contributed to a dip in shipments moving through the Port of Long Beach in January,” it said.
According to the port, economists have said inflation is slowing for purchased goods and could offset rising prices for services. It did not say whether it expects imports that shifted to East Coast ports last year to return to the San Pedro Bay ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in 2023.
The port did say it is investing in infrastructure projects to both improve air quality and make the West Coast gateway more competitive.
In his state of the port address in late January, Cordero said Long Beach aims to become the world’s first zero-emissions seaport and announced its bid to assemble and manufacture offshore wind turbines to increase California’s supply of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A conceptual assessment is scheduled for completion this spring for Pier Wind, which could become the largest facility for the assembly of offshore wind turbines at any U.S. seaport, according to the Port of Long Beach. It said the turbines would be deployed to wind farms off the coast of central and northern California.
The port also has established the Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations Program (ZEERO) to invest in projects designed to reduce the impacts of operations and improve air quality.
The Port of Long Beach moved a total of 9,133,657 TEUs in 2022, down just 2.7% from ’21, the busiest year in its 112-year history.
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