OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The Port of Oakland reported an all-time high in cargo traffic volume during the 1st quarter of the year, as trade between the U.S. and Asia reaches what officials described as “unprecedented” levels.
Port officials said in a statement that the total volume between January and March equaled 631,119 20-foot shipping containers. The previous record was 612,151, set in the first quarter of 2019.
Officials anticipate April to also be strong, when totals are released in a couple of weeks.
Port spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur told KPIX 5 last month that this is the busiest time in the 94 year history of the port.
“Whenever you see container ships anchoring out in the bay, know that is unusual,” Sandifur said.
Industry analysts attribute much of the momentum to a pandemic-weary public who are buying more goods, spurring manufacturers and retailers to replenish inventories.
Port officials said the surge shows no sign of letting up, with freight rates at near all-time highs, ships sailing between Asia and the West Coast being nearly full and vessels are often waiting days to unload.
“Our business has been growing for nearly a year now,” said Bryan Brandes, the port’s maritime director. “Based on the evidence, we expect the trend line to keep going up.”
The port recently added two new vessel services linking directly to Asia. Late last year, the port received massive cranes that tower up to 400 feet to service some of the largest container ships in the world.