NEW ORLEANS — For weeks now, we've been hearing that shelves around the U.S. may be empty when it comes to things like Christmas gifts.
Container ships are backed up due to the supply chain shortage,
but that shortage is an economic opportunity for New Orleans.
Container ships stack up for nautical mile after mile, unable to get into ports on the west and east coasts, but at the Port of New Orleans, it's a whole different story. There's no maritime traffic jam.
And what's not running smoothly on the east and west coasts, is providing big opportunities to the Crescent City.
“Our volume is up 40 percent over the last couple of months, and today we go to our warehouses and we're seeing our warehouses quickly filling up,” said Todd Rives, Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer of the Port of New Orleans.
Rives says container cargo is rising, but breakbulk cargo is at levels not seen in many years. That's cargo that's not in containers.
“And they're seeing more and more vessels, because as those commodities that they carry, steel, rubber, plywood, they're not getting space on the ocean ships any longer.”
And what the port is doing now is aggressively going after new customers. Those that have their orders sitting out in the pacific oceans, and offering New Orleans as an alternative.
“We want to be able to offer solutions to customers and say, ‘Hey, come to Port NOLA. Come to the state of Louisiana. We can handle your cargo and we can do it efficiently,’” said Rives.
The port is hoping to get new customers beginning next year, but in the next several years it wants to go after the big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco. So they are moving forward on the needed infrastructure to attract them. One is building a new international container terminal downriver in Violet.
The space is needed and container ships as big as the ones in the Pacific Ocean now, won't fit under the Crescent City Connection. The local advantage is infrastructure already in place, like access to six, class one railways.
“That we can move cargo efficiently to Texas, to Memphis, and to Chicago, and beyond. We're really a gateway for the heartland of America,” he said.
The challenge at other ports is turning into jobs for Louisiana.
Right now the Port of New Orleans exports the majority of its cargo volume, 70 percent, while those ports with the backup import a majority, 70 percent.