Amazon forwarding booms; K+N, DSV sustain YOY growth — Panjiva
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Amazon forwarding booms; K+N, DSV sustain YOY growth

Corp - Forwarders 331 U.S. 5260

Imports to the U.S. by port of lading in October maintained the same trend seen in overall imports, showing a slowdown in growth as imports in the comparable period of 2020 increased month over month after COVID-19-related lockdowns were lifted. October was the highest month for imports in 2020, and with record imports in October 2021 hitting the peak of logistical capacity — as discussed in Panjiva’s research of Nov. 10 — the result is lower year-over-year growth.

Imports originating from Chinese and European ports increased by 6.9% and 5.5% respectively, outperforming the total growth rate of 3.1% year over year in October. Imports originating from ports in all other locations fell by 1.3% year over year, likely still due to the congestion across global supply chains, as more robust seaborne links with China and Europe can push through additional volume.

China and Europe stay at top of falling growth

Chart shows U.S. imports by port by port of origin region on a quarterly year over year basis. Source: Panjiva

The capacity bottlenecks have exposed a shortage of truckers, chassis and containers that enable port operations by moving goods inland. Mismatches in supply and demand for these services — for example, chassis not being owned by the shipper that needs them — have caused containers to pile up in port yards. The Port of Los Angeles had 65,000 empty containers sitting around in the week of Nov. 18, according to the FT. These are needed at inland destinations to facilitate exports or to return to Asia to carry the next load of imports.

Part of the issue may be a surge in empty container imports that did not end up at their final destinations. This demonstrates a bullwhip effect from earlier in the year when containers were stuck inland. Imports of empty containers to the U.S. increased 939.2% year over year in October, Panjiva data shows, and by 1,929% compared to October 2019. On the forwarder side, imports of empty containers by K+N and Expeditors increased by 13.5% and 140.9% year over year respectively.

Empty imports fill up ports

Chart shows imports of empty containers associated with NVOCC SCACs. Source: Panjiva

Forwarders’ performance in Panjiva’s U.S. seaborne import data shows a strong October for Amazon, with imports up by 77.1% year over year. Amazon’s rapid growth in forwarding shows how much the firm is using logistics to fuel its e-commerce business, with the caveat of starting from a smaller base than more established carriers.

K+N and DSV were at the high end in the month as well, up 16.4% and 13.5% year over year respectively. These are lower than the year-over-year increase recorded in Q3 but match the slowing growth rate of U.S. imports, and the growing evidence that companies addressed holiday congestion by shipping goods earlier.

At the other end of the scale, Honour Lane saw October imports fall by 33.5% year over year after a 9.0% decrease in volume in Q3. Part of this decline could be related to the company reportedly exploring a sale, according to Bloomberg News. Meanwhile, Orient Star posted a decline in imports during the month, down 24.5% year over year from an increase of 4.5% year over year in Q3. This could be an extreme example of the early-shipping strategy as the firm saw a large decline in furniture imports, which accounted for 16.0% of its volume in the first 10 months of 2021.

Amazon fuels e-commerce with in-house imports

Chart shows U.S. seaborne imports by NVOCC SCAC on a monthly and quarterly year over year basis. Source: Panjiva

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