Port of Oakland plans pop-up container yard as import surge slows exporters

Source: Dive Brief
Date: 6th January 2022

    • The Port of Oakland announced Monday it is opening a 25-acre pop-up container yard outside the facilities to expedite truck turn times and free chassis for exporters. It did not specify when the yard would be ready for use.
    • Typically, the port said it sees an even split between the imports and exports it handles. But the current import surge is “displacing ships and containers that are available to exporters,” according to the press release. Due to its location, the Port of Oakland is a top export gateway for California’s agriculture industry and for refrigerated proteins.
    • In addition to the pop-up container yard, the port said it is working on further solutions to facilitate exports. In particular, it called on shipping companies to restore export services at the Port of Oakland in the short-term and said it was working on ways to manage container availability in the long-term.

Dive Insight:
A lack of space to process a deluge of imports has led to congested facilities over the past year, but ports around the country seem to have found one common solution: pop-up container yards.

Facing similar congestion, the Port of Savannah in November announced plans to turn five inland facilities into pop-up container yards. Earlier in the year, the Port of Long Beach had turned 65 acres of land into a pop-up yard capable of handling 750,000 TEUs in annual throughput, deputy executive director at the Port of Long Beach, told Supply Chain Dive in October.

“Containers spend a day, maximum two days there,” Port of Long Beach said of the facility, which is more than double the size of what Oakland is planning. “It provides relief to our terminals … it also provides relief to the motor carriers because they can drop off an empty container there.”

Shippers also can benefit from the strategy. Walmart, for example, opened its own pop-up container yard at the San Pedro Bay ports, according to a LinkedIn post by the company’s executive vice president of supply chain operations. It “dramatically improved our flow of containers,” Walmart said.

Now, the Port of Oakland is trying the same approach with a different target in mind: helping secure chassis for exports.

The pop-up yard in Oakland will “provide access to equipment and provide faster truck turn times without having to wait for in-terminal space,” according to the press release. And agriculture exporters will be able to tap federal and state agencies for help using the yard.

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