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  • Writer's pictureFirst Port Global (FPG)

Oakland’s exports go cold

The Port of Oakland’s refrigerated exports have jumped 20% in past year, but at the same time total export cargo has fallen.

Cool Port Oakland can transload refrigerated cargo from rail cars to reefer containers
Cool Port Oakland can transload refrigerated cargo from rail cars to reefer containers

The Port said it handled 119,756 TEU of refrigerated exports from August 2018 through July 2019, up 20% from the 99,740 TEU handled in the same period a year previously. However, over the same period the number of full empty containers exported through Oakland actually declined, from 922,375 TEU over July 2017 to August 2018 to 915,857 TEU in the following 12 months.

The port pointed to Midwest beef (+45%), and pork (+38%) as driving the increase in its reefer business, which it added “could indicate that the Port’s strategic bet on temperature-controlled cargo is paying off”.

“Our business partners are investing to meet increased overseas demand for U.S. farm goods,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “When you couple their expertise with our infrastructure, it makes a compelling case for running the transportation cold chain through Oakland.”

US producers have suffered from the trade war with China, but they continue to find other markets. Oakland’s position as the last call out of the US for Asia-bound container ships leaving the US has enabled it to leverage intermodal connections to tap Midwest agricultural exporters, and the port has focused on growing its cold chain business.

Recent cold chain initiatives at Oakland include developing new distribution capabilities, extending operating hours to ease delivery of export containers to the Port for overseas shipment, and installing hundreds of new reefer plugs.

Last autumn Lineage Cool Port Oakland, a joint venture of Lineage Logistics and Dreisbach Enterprises, opened a 283,000-square-foot refrigerated distribution centre at the port. It transloads perishable cargo, mostly beef and pork, from refrigerated rail cars into reefer containers for export.

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