A record number of container ships are currently waiting outside the ports of Los Angeles due to a massive backup caused by a sudden surge in American purchases just in time for the Christmas season.
In the port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which moves 40 percent of the containers in the United States, 62 cargo ships are currently waiting to enter the port to unload cargo, the Guardian reported.
The backup at the country’s busiest port complex was caused by a combination of rush hour due to the upcoming holiday season and a pandemic-induced buying boom coupled with a labor shortage that has overwhelmed the port workforce, port officials say.
The ports serve as the entry point for a third of imports into the US and are the main import point for goods from China
“American purchasing power is so strong and epic that we can’t get all of that cargo into the domestic supply chain,” Gene Seroka, director of the LA port, told the Guardian.
The 62 container ships waiting to dock include 42 container ships physically at anchor and 20 in drift areas, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which tracks shipping in the area.
The west coast ports have had traffic since August, when 44 container ships were stranded off the coast due to similar disruptions.
The congestion in the ports, which serve as the main entry point for goods from China, has even had a direct impact on the prices of artificial Christmas trees.
Balsam Hill, a California-based man-made tree company, is selling its 1.2 meter tall Grand Canyon Cedar Tree for $ 499 this year. That’s $ 199 more than the cost of the same tree in 2020 – a price increase of two-thirds in just 12 months.
“We have never come close to hike prices in our history and will make a lot less money,” Mac Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill, told the Wall Street Journal.
“It was the first time we had the catalog and we had no products to sell,” added Harman.
“Our deliveries did not arrive on time. We’re still trying to find out exactly where the products are. Are they still stuck on the water or in ports? If this continues, we could go out of business. ‘
The Port of Long Beach is now well on its way to breaking its all-time record, processing more than 9 million container units this year, nearly a million more than in 2020, the Guardian reported.
To reduce delays for ships, the southern California ports are working with the Biden government and the transportation department, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced on Twitter
The port complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which moves 40 percent of the containers in the USA, is currently waiting with 62 cargo ships to enter the port
In June, the Port of Los Angeles became the first port in the Western Hemisphere to handle 10 million container units in a 12 month period.
But the supply chain is not prepared for the massive influx of imports, Kip Loutitt, executive director of the Marine Exchange, told Business Insider.
“Part of the problem is that the ships are twice or three times the size of the ships we saw 10 or 15 years ago,” Louttit said.
“It takes longer to unload. You need more trucks, more trains, more warehouses to load the cargo. ‘
To reduce delays for ships, the southern California ports are working with the Biden administration and transportation department, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said on Twitter.
The Port of Long Beach is testing a 24/7 pilot program that would extend cargo pickup hours to less traffic in the area for faster deliveries.
“We are in the middle of a historic freight surge and our terminal operators and other supply chain partners are doing everything they can to keep things moving,” said Mario Cordero, executive director of Port of Long Beach, in a statement. “We welcome this TTI pilot project as a first step towards expanding the gates to 24/7 operation and encourage our freight owners and trucking partners to try this innovative program.”