The Port of Long Beach, California, set a record in May for the largest container volume handled in a single month, topping 900,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the first time, the port said June 9.
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Total throughput at the second-busiest container port in North America was 907,216 TEUs in May, up by 44% from the same month last year and a significant gain from the previous monthly record of 840,387 TEUs in March.
"We are seeing a demand for more goods as the country continues to open up and people return to work," said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach.
The surge in US spending on consumer goods has continued to drive demand for imports, while vaccinations of port workers has increased the workforce available to process cargoes waiting on ships at anchor in the San Pedro Bay.
Loaded import volumes in May also hit an all-time high of 444,736 TEUs, up 42% year on year, while loaded export volumes only increased by 0.6% over the same period to 135,345 TEUs.
But US import volumes could begin to slow from June onwards as the COVID-19 outbreak centered on the Yantian container terminal in South China has severely curtailed operations at one of the country's top export terminals, creating a rapidly growing pile-up of export cargoes that may not be processed by other ports.
Maersk, MSC and Hapag-Lloyd are among the shipping lines that have announced they will skip calls on Yantian terminal in the coming weeks in order to maintain schedule reliability. There were 26 ships waiting at anchor near Shenzhen's Yantian terminal on June 9, including three ultra-large ships with greater than 18,000-TEU carrying capacity, according to cFlow, S&P Global Platts' trade flow software.
Platts Container Rate 13 -- North Asia to West Coast North America -- was assessed at an all-time high of $5,500/FEU on June 9, up by 168% from the year-ago date.