Port of LA March cargo volume drops nearly 31%

The Port of Los Angeles reported a year-over-year March volume drop of 30.9%.

The port said Wednesday it moved 449,568 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in March. That’s the lowest amount of monthly cargo moved through the port since February 2009. 

“We’ve had two serious shocks to our supply chain system — first the trade war between the U.S. and China and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Executive Director Gene Seroka. “With U.S. retailers and cargo owners scaling back orders, volumes are soft even though factories in China are beginning to produce more. Amid this public health crisis, there will be uncertain months ahead in the global supply chain.”

March imports decreased 25.9% to 220,255 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports decreased 23.8% to 121,146 TEUs. Empty containers declined 44.5% to 108,168 TEUs.

The port and all terminals remain open during the pandemic. Container terminals at the ports of both LA and Long Beach have adjusted their second-shift operating hours to provide time to disinfect all handling equipment between shifts.

The Port of LA also is hosting the hospital ship USNS Mercy, which arrived March 27 to provide relief to overburdened area hospitals and treat non-COVID-19 patients. 

Last week LA Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Seroka as the city’s first chief logistics officer to help procure and distribute medical supplies critical to the fight against the coronavirus.

Garcetti said during a press briefing Tuesday that Seroka had launched a business-to-business website, www.coronavirus.lacity.org/LoVLA, earlier in the day to help obtain “the goods that we need to win this fight.”

Seroka said the website “will bring together hospitals and their specific needs, manufacturers and suppliers with what they can bring us here to our medical front-line folks as well as what we are building in the city of Los Angeles as a stockpile of inventories.”

He said $20 million has been earmarked for the purchase of crucial medical goods, including N95 masks, ventilators, exam gloves and face shields.

“With the Port of Los Angeles and LAX, we have a keen line of sight through our technology as to where these medical shipments are. We can highlight them and speed them through our system right to our hospitals, emergency management folks and critical care units. Those highlighted shipments will move through as quickly as possible so we again can keep building stock right on the front line,” he said.