The Port of Tacoma’s container business continued outperforming last year’s numbers with the port seeing nearly a 17 percent in container volumes in May.
For the year through the end of May, the port reported Wednesday that its container numbers were up 31 percent. The presence of the Grand Alliance container shipping consortium at the port in 2013 was responsible for much of the increase.
Four container shipping lines, OOCL, Hapag-Lloyd, NYK and Zim, moved their Puget Sound base of operations from Seattle to Tacoma last July. The four lines carry each other’s cargo in the trans-Pacific trade.
The port said that while the four lines in the Grand Alliance were the main drivers of the cargo handling increase, the volume handled by existing customers is up three percent for the year.
Containerized cargo is cargo carried in large metal boxes that are stacked one atop the other on ships. The volume of that cargo is measured in 20-foot-equivalent units. Most containers these days are 40-feet long, so each of those containers equals two TEUS, twenty-foot equivalent units.
Other cargo handled by the port showed gains through the end of May:
*Auto imports were up five percent to 63,625 vehicles. That upward trend reflects stronger auto sales volumes nationwide.
*Intermodal lifts increased by38 percent to 198,491 units.
*Log exports were also up. Those volumes improved by 54 percent to 228,716 short tons. Those exports are expected to moderate later this year as the construction season in China ends.
One area that lags behind last year’s is breakbulk shipments. Those were down 17 percent through the end of last month. Breakbulk shipments are those items too large or awkwardly shaped to fit inside containers. Breakbulk shipments include large construction and farm machinery and equipment.