USDA marine container report debuts

07/13/2012 11:53:00 AM
Tom Karst

A new U.S. Department of Agriculture weekly report will provide fresh produce and other agricultural exporters with information about marine shipping container availability at select U.S. locations.

Called the Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report, each Wednesday it will give a description of container availability for westbound transpacific trade lanes at 18 intermodal locations in the U.S., according to a news release from the USDA.

The data is submitted by all 10 ocean carrier members of the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, according to the release.

The report will be issued by USDA’s Transportation Services Division.

“The industry’s collaboration in this effort was vital to making this report a reality,” Arthur Neal, Transportation and Marketing deputy administrator, said in the release.

The USDA said the weekly report will give the carriers’ estimates of equipment availability for the current week and projections two weeks out.

One shipping industry executive said the report will bring more transparency to the export supply chain.

“Putting the right data collection and reporting processes in place has required persistence and hard work by both ocean carriers and USDA, and WTSA lines appreciate the critical leadership role USDA has played in launching this valuable pilot project,” Brian Conrad, executive administrator of the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement, said in a release from the group.

Conrad said the idea for the report grew out of discussions that began in 2010, when severe equipment shortages strained the ability of exporters to secure enough containers for exports.

Agriculture exporters account for about 20% of total waterborne shipments in the U.S.-Asia freight market, according to the release.

Members of the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement include APL Ltd., Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Ltd., COSCO Container Lines Ltd., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K Line), Evergreen Line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (N.Y.K. Line), Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd., Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd., Hapag Lloyd AG and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.



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