Container shortage boosts breakbulk activity at Port NOLA
The current market dynamics have played right in the hands of the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) and its breakbulk capabilities. The port saw a 46 percent rise in breakbulk volumes compared to the year 2020, reaching 2.4 million tons.
The increase in breakbulk and bulk cargo were driven by steel, plywood and super sack cargo. This came about as due to shippers turning to breakbulk shipping solutions to avoid global container equipment shortages and current market dynamics. Port NOLA’s diverse handling capabilities for commodities ranging from steel, natural rubber, project cargo and plywood as well as cargoes moving in super sacks such as sand, tapioca flour and even coffee aided the growth.
Coffee has been one type of cargo that has recently returned to breakbulk. The move has come about as coffee producers, roasters and traders are looking to bridge the global container shortage that is causing a major backlog. The switch to breakbulk was easy as coffee is loaded in big bags, similar to cement which is a more common type of cargo on breakbulk vessels, an ideal solution providing a quick turnaround.
“Ending the year with such strong breakbulk volumes highlights Port NOLA’s diverse logistics solutions as we continue to position ourselves as an alternative gateway during supply chain disruptions,” said Brandy D. Christian, president and CEO Port NOLA and CEO of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB). “As carriers and shippers continue to look to Port NOLA as the gulf gateway of choice, we are committed to investing in our state’s existing maritime assets, while also making progress on a second container facility that will serve vessels of all sizes, and create more jobs and opportunity for Louisiana.”
The Port invested in the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal with the arrival of four new 100-foot-gauge container gantry cranes in December of 2021. The new gantry cranes, expected to be operational in spring of this year, add to the over $100 million recent investment into the current terminal, which serves as Louisiana’s only international container port.