By John Gillie, January 29, 2013, The News Tribune
Boosted by new traffic from the Grand Alliance shipping consortium, the Port of Tacoma last year recorded its best container shipping volumes since 2008.
A new report from the port shows container traffic up nearly 16 percent last year over 2011 to 1.711 million container units.
That container volume was pumped up by the move of the Grand Alliance container shipping combine to the port from Seattle in July. Four container shipping lines, NYK, Hapag Lloyd, OOCL and Zim, share shipping capacity in service from Asia to the West Coast. Two other associated shipping services also moved to Tacoma along with the Grand Alliance.
Container traffic wasn’t the only bright spot in the port’s year-end total. Breakbulk cargo, cargo too large or oddly-shaped to fit in standard shipping containers, jumped by 68 percent last year, the port said.
Overseas demand for construction and farming equipment helped drive those volumes higher, the port said.
Not all segments of the port’s business showed healthy increases.
The port’s auto shipment business declined by 9 percent. The port said 2011’s results were abnormally large because of auto business temporarily diverted from other ports last year.
The port’s grain export business also fell in 2012 by 19 percent because the Midwest drought made less grain available for export last year. Log exports also dropped 35 percent because of slackening demand in Asia.