West Coast ports believe congestion will slow during summer
By Matt Noltemeyer, Meat+Poultry
WASHINGTON — Port authorities were hopeful congestion that has plagued container loading and unloading facilities along the West Coast will diminish with the approach of summer. But there likely will be little time to fully recover more normal port operations before August, when import volumes, already at record levels, will begin to expand seasonally ahead of the winter holidays.
In the meantime, imports of containers loaded with consumer goods, including food and food ingredients grown or manufactured in Asian and Pacific nations, were delayed in reaching American importers for transport to markets across the United States, and exporters of American agricultural products complained that ocean carriers were slow to load or even refused to load US agricultural exports in order to expedite the return of empty containers to Asia to take advantage of the far more lucrative west-to-east trade.
The explosion in e-commerce purchases by American consumers in the last several months of the pandemic resulted in container volumes that overwhelmed workforces on the docks, in warehouses and on truck routes in between that have struggled with illnesses and absences because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected these workforce problems will abate as more workers are vaccinated.
Some US ports have never been busier...