Ocean cargo stabilizes, sort of

Ocean freight carriers have been under tremendous scrutiny since the pandemic kicked off, but now many are looking at ways to balance the reduction in demand after they’ve spent two-plus years trying to scramble and increase capacity by any means necessary. While some carriers are opening up, merging with or acquiring air cargo arms, others are cutting back services they worked to bulk up during the pandemic. The trans-oceanic cargo on both sides has seen substantial reductions in demand that act like hurdles for these rapidly running businesses to try to clear.

For the first time, the Port of New York has become the busiest port in the United States, grabbing the top spot away from Los Angeles, thanks to diverted cargo that avoided the west coast due to delays that plagued the area earlier in the year. With some of China still experiencing a cargo slowdown, less trans-pacific cargo, more trans-atlantic cargo, and stunningly improved east coast services have placed ports on the eastern seaboard in prime position to take over as the west coast recovers.

While it’s doubtful that the east coast will hold onto the distinction permanently, the lesson remains that preparation and opportunity are equal facets of success. For the Port of Norfolk, the investments in infrastructure, dredging and new gantry cranes allowed them to accept post-panamax vessels as soon as they were on the water. For Charleston and Savannah, the updates made as the pandemic started, including expansions, dredging projects and improved intermodal options, saw both able to take over cargo that would be bound for only larger ports the year before.

Even Gulf ports are now showing investments in both expanded services and green initiatives that will hopefully allow them to grow safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively to suit the increase in cargo moving across the Gulf of Mexico.

If you need guidance navigating the new normal of post-pandemic ocean freight, your Nelson International representative is ready to walk you through the new options and build time and sustainability into your supply chain. Contact us today for more information.