Bubble Chart showing the flow of good in the supply chain

SoCal Ports Report 2nd Busiest Year in Container Traffic in 2022
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reported their 2nd busiest year in container throughput in 2022. Combined, the two adjoining Ports processed 19,044,816 TEUs in 2022, down -5% from their all-time high of 20,061,978 TEUs in 2021. The reduction of imports was due to the weakening of the economy and a diversion of loaded imports to East and Gulf Coast Ports by shippers to due Port of Entry congestion concerns and potential disruptions during Port union contract negotiations. Union contract negotiations, which began 9 months ago, between the ILWU, representing 22,000 workers at West Coast Ports and the PMA, representing 29 West Coast Port Terminal Operators are continuing after contract expiration in July 2022.

Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach State of the Port Presentation Highlights
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach held their annual State of the Port presentation on January 26, 2023. The following are some of the highlights. 

Gene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles:

  • The Port will use port property to help solve the homeless problem.
  • The goal is to increase digitalization which will increase container flow velocity.
  • Will be implementing a Port-Wide Reservation system to solve current marine terminal appointment systems.
  • An 80-acre Maritime Support Facility will be developed on Terminal Island to act as “flex space” to help stage containers and chassis for marine terminal operations. The project will break ground in 2024.
  • Port is committed to its “Zero-Emission goal by 2035.
  • The West Harbor Development $71 million community outreach project is officially starting this year.
  • Port is participating in the Shanghai Green Shipping Corridor Alliance to help reduce the climate impact of Global Supply Chains.
  • A Green Hydrogen hub will be built on Port property.  
  • Port will launch a new Workforce Initiative to support training and job placements.

Mario Cordero, Executive Director, Port of Long Beach:

  • The goal is to become the first zero-emissions seaport.
  • Committed to supporting state and federal efforts to increase renewable energy resources.
  • Port is supporting offshore wind turbines that will increase the state’s supply of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Port is establishing a Zero Emissions Energy Resilient Operations Program – known as ZEERO – to invest in projects aimed at reducing the impacts of operations and improving air quality.
  • The Port ended 2022 with 9,133,657 twenty-foot equivalent units moved, down 2.7% from 2021, which remains the Port’s most active year in its 112-year history
  • Over the next decade, the Port plans to invest in rail improvements that will improve efficiency, reduce truck trips and lessen environmental impacts amid increases in cargo volume.
Record Profits Reported by Maersk in 2022. Expects Weak Growth in 2023
Maersk, one of the largest Ocean Carriers, reported record profits for its Ocean business segment in 2022. Despite a 8.9% reduction in loaded volumes in the second half of the year compared to 2021, Ocean profits (EBIT) reached $29.1 billion up 62% for the year, which was supported by East-West trade freight rate increases of 49%, according to the Annual Report. Maersk expects global economic growth in 2023 to be around 1.5% and global ocean container market growth to be in the range of -2.5% to +0.5%.

Maersk and MSC, the two largest Ocean Carriers, recently announced plans to discontinue their 2M alliance effective January 2025. The container shipping line vessel-sharing agreement was introduced in 2015. Discontinuing the 2M alliance paves the way for both companies to pursue their individual strategies. Read more at Maersk and MSC

FMC Rules Exclusivity Provisions of Chassis Pools Contracts Violate Shipping Act
A Summary Decision by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) on Feb. 6, 2023, ruled that container chassis providers (e.g., chassis pools) with exclusive chassis agreements with Ocean Carriers violate the Shipping Act when the motor carrier is not able to utilize the chassis provider of its choice for Merchant Haulage (motor carrier paid) transportation. The case was brought by the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC) of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) against eleven Ocean Carriers and their chassis management companies (OCEMA & CMM) in August 2020. According to the OCEMA’s website, CCM had over 120,000 chassis under management at regional pools in 29 major hubs. "Merchant Haulage" (e.g., motor carrier paid movements) constitutes a majority of the movements as opposed to "Carrier Haulage" (e.g., ocean carrier door moves). The FMC decision initially applies to only four hubs, including the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach (e.g., Pool of Pools). 

The IMCC alleged that volume commitments in ocean carrier contracts cross-subsidized lower prices for Carrier Haulage in exchange for provisions for higher rates for Merchant Haulage. The Executive Director of the IMCC, Jonathan Eisen stated: "The decision is the first step in putting a stop to the practice of foreign-owned shipping lines forcing American drivers and motor carriers to use specific equipment providers to move goods – which will help reduce supply chain delays and cut costs for carriers and consumers.” The summary decision is subject to appeal by both parties. Read more at ATA and FMC

SoCal Freeways Among Nation's Top Truck Bottlenecks
The latest annual report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) indicates that 3 of the nation's top 10 truck bottlenecks are located in SoCal. The ATRI analysis utilizes truck GPS data and a speed/volume algorithm to quantify the impact of congestion at 300 freight-significant locations throughout the U.S.. This year, the report identified three SoCal locations that have consistently appeared among the nation's worst bottlenecks over the last 5 years:  (#7) SR 60 at SR 57, (#8) I-710 at I-105, and (#10) I-10 at I-15. These areas had average peak hour truck speeds of 28.5 to 35.7 mph. The report provides information to help guide investment decisions to improve the truck freight transportation infrastructure. Read more at ATRI
Record Number of Mega Big-Box Lease Transactions in 2022
CBRE, a top Industrial Real Estate Brokerage Firm, reported that of the top 100 industrial lease transactions signed in 2022, 63 were for facilities greater than 1 million sq ft – a record, up from 57 in 2021. Of the top 100, twenty-four were for renewals – six more than in 2021, indicating more tenants opting to remain in their current facilities.  According to CBRE, of the top 100 deals, 53 were for traditional retailers/wholesalers expanding to accommodate growth in e-commerce and inventory capacity, 18 were by third-party logistics (3PL) providers, and 14 were by e-commerce-only companies.  Of the top 100 leases, the top markets were the SoCal Inland Empire with 17 transactions totaling 20.9 MSF (eleven with 1 million sq. ft or more), followed by Chicago with 11 of the top 100 leases. Despite a possible economic slowdown, CBRE believes leasing of mega big-box facilities will remain solid this year as many occupiers shore up e-commerce and inventory protection capabilities. Read more at CBRE
SoCal Industrial Real Estate Forecasts High Construction Demand to Continue
The Winter 2023 Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson School of Business Commercial Real Estate Survey and Index, a potential leading indicator of future SoCal industrial construction, forecasts demand to grow slightly faster than supply over the next three years. The biannual survey of commercial developers and financiers taken in December 2022, compiles the views of supply-side participants of a three-year time horizon – chosen to approximate the average time for completion of a new commercial project.

According to the report, the SoCal industrial market has been overheated. Developers have responded to demand levels that have pushed vacancy rates below 1% in both Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. In spite of the possibility of a near-term recession resulting in a demand by financiers for higher equity participation and a higher rate of return hurdle rates, there is a projected continuation of low vacancy rates and increasing rents. Two-thirds of the SoCal panelists are planning at least one new project in the next 12 months. Read more at Allen Matkins/UCLA