Posts Tagged ‘Journal of Commerce’

JOC Insights by Mario Moreno: Meat Exports Decelerate in 2012

May 28, 2013

U.S. containerized exports of meat (HS code 02) rose 3.2% in 2012, following a jump of 21.7% in the prior year. The index shows that exports more than doubled from 2004 to 2011. Between 2007 and 2012, exports grew at a compound annual growth rate of 10%. Index is up by 140% from 2004 January base.

US Meat Exports in TEUs

The Port of Savannah handled the most outbound shipments of meat in 2012, accounting for a 20% of all meat exports, unchanged from 2011. Th e largest recipients of U.S. meat shipped from the port of Savannah last year were China, Angola, Hong Kong, Georgia, and Taiwan. Port of Oakland follows Savannah with a 16% share. Los Angeles holds a 12% share while Houston and Norfolk each hold a 7% share. The share of each port is unchanged from 2011. These 5 ports account for 63% of all U.S. meat outbound shipments.

US Meat Exports

Japan and Mexico are 2 of the largest markets for U.S. meat exports by $ value. Japan held an 18.9% market share in 2012, up slightly by 0.2 percentage points over 2011, but still down by a 0.2 point from 2010. Mexico accounted for a respectable 17.2% market share last year, but its share is down by almost 2 full points. Meat exports to Japan and Mexico have grown modestly last year. Meat exports to Russia and China increased by 27% each last year. Russia used to be a top market up until 2009, but due to import limitations and the country building toward self-sufficiency in its meat sector, Russia is not a top market anymore. China’s share of exports is rapidly increasing, from 2.6% in 2010 to 6.2% in 2012. Exports to that market jumped 157% in 2011 but slowed the pace to 23% in 2012. Demand for meat will stay strong as long as the incomes on millions in China continue rising.

Losses in market share were seen in Taiwan and Vietnam. Taiwan holds a share of 2.1%, down from 3.1% in 2010, while Vietnam holds a share of 1.4%, down from 2.1% in 2010.

Chart 3

Source: International Trade Commission; author’s own calculations

More of Moreno’s trade and economic analysis can be obtained by subscribing to JOC Insights or by following him on Twitter @MarioMoreno_JoC.


Decrease in China’s Toy Market Share

November 29, 2012

China may be considered the workshop of the world; with the combination of a large manufacturing base, relatively low labor costs and numerous support policies have made China an extremely attractive option for international business. With 1.3 billion people, cheap labor in China seemed unlimited at a time.

US Toy Imports Q3 2012

Despite its rapid growth in recent decades, many of the advantages that have fueled the expansion of Chinese manufacturing are beginning to deteriorate. Labor and raw material costs in China have seen a steady increase and many commodity-type goods can no longer be competitively sourced from China, such as toys. With Chinese wages rising at about 17% per year and the value of the Yuan continuing to increase, the gap between U.S. and Chinese wages is narrowing rapidly; increasing costs even before inventory and shipping costs are considered.

In a recent article in The Journal of Commerce, PIERS data showed China’s toy imports to the U.S. declined from an 82.4% market share in 2011, to 81.2% in 2012, while the next largest importer, Hong Kong experienced similar decline with its market share slipping to 6.5% from 6.9% a year earlier.

Meanwhile it seems China and Hong Kong’s decline in market share has been spread across a number of much smaller toy exporters.  The next largest source of toy imports after China and Hong Kong is Vietnam, which increased its market share position by .2% from 1.3% to 1.5%, which translates to 765 TEUs. Similarly, Germany increased their market share by .4% to 1.1% and showed the most significant increase in terms of import volume with an increase of 1,315 TEUs over the same period last year.

PIERS/JOC, Economist, Mario Moreno, offers a possible explanation for the recent shift in production, “Labor supply in labor-intensive industries is very tight, which has prompted many owners to move their (Chinese) factories inland, but even then they are still struggling to find enough workers for their export production activities. Many owners have relocated their shops to Vietnam in order to lessen their labor supply problems in China.”

Looking to keep track of a specific commodity? PIERS products give you a global picture of a commodity and the companies trading it. Analyze commodity growth trends, leading producers, source suppliers and more! Click here to register for a free demo.

Optimize Your Supply Chain Utilizing Inland Ports

August 2, 2012

The global movement of ideas, people and goods has grown exponentially! United States exports continue to increase, however we must recognize both sides of the global trade equation as many U.S. companies rely on foreign imports to compete globally. Imported components continue to be critical to American-made finished goods, impacting coastal ports with increased volume and traffic.

Many of these coastal ports may soon be strained to their capacity limits as shipments increase; more ships will arrive with more containers, especially with the 2014 completion of the Panama Canal (as stated in an earlier PIERS blog). Swelling container volumes may create problems as goods seek to reach their final destinations. Many seaports have plans for major infrastructure improvements but congestion will still present challenges to timely, cost-effective distribution of inbound containerized shipments to noncoastal retailers, manufacturers and ultimately consumers.

What is the solution?

Transfer inbound cargo directly from the ocean vessel to railcars, or transport to an inland port and distribute from there. Inland ports, and intermodal distribution centers, are designed to move international shipments more efficiently from coastal ports for distribution throughout the U.S. heartland. This offers a myriad benefits to shippers, given their connectivity to major seaports, which helps U.S. manufacturers and retailers via cost-effective import distribution. With increased transportation costs, supply chain professionals are all about moving freight in a more cost-effective manner.

Bringing goods from coastal ports closer to the customer provides cost advantages in the form of lower labor, real estate rates and emission reduction. Supply chain efficiency will also improve as inland ports reduce congestion and move goods closer to inland population centers through a more cost-effective mode of transportation.

While there are currently a limited number of U.S.-based inland ports, there is potential for more to enter the market as the Panama Canal expansion nears completion date. U.S. intermodal is on the rise; for the first 28 weeks of 2012 intermodal traffic rose 3.6%, carload traffic fell 2.6% in the same period as reported by the JOC last month.

To learn more about how your company’s supply chain can benefit from utilizing inland ports register for the JOC’s Inland Port Logistics Conference September 5-6.

PIERS can deliver the intelligence that you need! We have several solutions to assist in analyzing the global supply chain and understand the movement of goods. Contact us today to have a PIERS Data Solutions Expert contact you to provide more information or schedule a product demonstration.

Who Tops This Year’s JOC Top 100 Importers & Exporters Lists?

June 22, 2012

2011 was extraordinary in terms of natural catastrophes and disasters – all of which cause a bit of global turbulence in the trade industry. The economic burden doesn’t only affect  where the disaster occurred but also ripples through the world economy by affecting global trade volume. A single natural disaster can cause a domino effect that can cripple supply chains as was evident in the auto parts industry after the Japan earthquake last March. These crises “coupled with a soft post-recession consumer market and mixed macroeconomic environment, growth undoubtedly was restrained,” stated the Journal of Commerce in the “Coming Full Cycle”.

Top 5 U.S. Importers 2011 

Top 5 U.S. Exporters 2011 

Retail sales are the main driver of containerized imports, which JOC/PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno expects to rise at a slower pace than previously forecasted.  His revised forecast which was published earlier this week calls for 4.1% growth on U.S. imports, down from 4.5% previously and 2.3% growth for exports which was reduced from 3.5%.  For 2011, U.S. imports increased 3% in 2011 over 2010 while U.S. exports increased 6% year-over-year. 

Want to monitor the top importers and exporters in your industry? PIERS data can help. To learn more visit PIERS or call 973-766-8660. 

*The JOC’s Annual Top 100 Importers and Exporters ranking is based on data from PIERS, a JOC sister company, and other industry sources.


U.S. Importers Keeping Inventory Lean, Containerized Shipments Down 2% in April

June 11, 2012

U.S. containerized imports dropped 2% in April year-over-year, as retailers responded to a slowing economy by keeping inventories lean, reported Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. The decline followed a 7.3% Y-o-Y gain in March due, in part, to an early Lunar New Year in China.

“Latest import data reinforces the interpretation of a marked slowdown in the economy, induced by a lack of significant job growth. It is only fair to ask, what will the Fed do next?” Moreno said. His comments reflect his continued expectation that growth in imports will regain speed in the second half of the year, with the help of Federal Reserve intervention. Overall U.S. containerized imports were up 1% in the first four months of the year.

U.S. Containerized Imports April 2012


Leading the losses in April were footwear and miscellaneous fruits, each down 20%; menswear, down 19%; women’s and infant wear, down 11%; miscellaneous apparel, down 11%; auto tires, down 6%; and computer-related products, down 8%.  

Sales of existing homes are paddling along so far this year, which contributed to a slight uptick in furniture imports. In the months ahead, however, softness in the pace of home sales will constrain growth in furniture and home goods imports, Moreno said. Furniture is the single largest containerized import commodity.

Year-over-year U.S. containerized imports from Asia declined 1.6% in April, with shipments from China at the forefront, down 3%, due to reduced footwear, furniture and toy shipments. Chile followed with a surprising drop of 25%, while imports from Hong Kong and Belgium fell 11% and 17%, respectively. Leading the gains were Japan, up 17%, and Vietnam, up 14%.

More of Moreno’s trade and economic analysis can be found in his blog or by following him on Twitter @MarioMoreno_JoC

For FREE, instant access to details on U.S. import shipments, register online for PIERS TI Basic.

U.S. Container Imports Up 7.3% in March

May 1, 2012

Driven by a surge in furniture and auto parts shipments to the U.S., containerized imports in March rose 7.3% over 2011. This increase came on the heels of a 5.9% decline in February.  On a month-to-month basis, overall imports climbed 15.2% in March, following a contraction of 19% in February.

“Latest TEU data supports my view of very modest imports growth through the second half of the year,” said Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. “Although the U.S. economy is showing signs of deceleration, it will likely be momentary as the FED has made it clear it is prepared to do more if conditions worsen. Imports growth should regain speed in the second half of the year.”

Leading the gains were furniture, up 15%, empty containers & drums, up 178% and auto parts, up 15%.  Sales of existing homes declined for two consecutive months through March, which is a concern for the short-term imports outlook of furniture and other home goods. Solid gains were also seen in miscellaneous plastic products (+17%), bananas (+12%), and miscellaneous metal ware (+18%). On the downside, miscellaneous fruits lost 17% of TEU volume, while imports of footwear and menswear were down by 9% and 10%, respectively.

On a regional level, imports from Northeast Asia rose by the most, up 11%. North Europe followed, advancing 6%, while shipments from the Mediterranean surged 12%. Leading the losses were the Indian Subcontinent and East Coast South America, down 7% and 8% respectively.

On a country level, shipments from China showed the most gains, up 13%. This sharp jump in shipments from China is mostly owed to an easier year-over-year comparison with March 2011 base as the 2012 Lunar New Year came early. Vietnam followed with a remarkable gain of 32%, while imports from Germany jumped 11%. Leading the losses, shipments from Brazil lost 16% TEU volume in the month.

Overall U.S. containerized imports advanced 2% in Q1 year-over-year, to a total of 4,032,857 TEUs. This growth compares favorably to Moreno’s forecast of 1.5% as presented in the March 2012 issue of JOC Container Shipping Outlook.

To learn more about how PIERS data can help your company visit or call 973-776-8660.

U.S. Containerized Exports Jump 9.6% in February

April 19, 2012

After 1.9% growth in January, U.S. containerized exports leapt forward again in February, rising 9.6% year-over-year and 4% from the previous month. The total February volume was 1,014,176 TEUs, led by strong gains in paper and paperboard, building materials and refrigerated foods, and boosted by the depreciation of the U.S. dollar.

U.S. Containerized Export Volume in TEUs - February 2012

In terms of TEUs, paper and paperboard showed the greatest gains, but building materials grew by 280% over January, and frozen fish jumped 157%. Fabrics (including raw cotton) continue to decline, down 15% or 6,375 TEUs.

“The foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar against a broad basket of currencies was down on January 31 by 2% over the value of December 30, 2011,” said Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. “Manufacturing activity in China has been in contraction for four consecutive months, yet U.S. exports of key raw materials such as paper & paper board and raw cotton increased sharply, suggesting factory output will rebound soon.”

Northeast Asia held its position as the top destination for U.S. containerized exports, showing 12% Y-o-Y growth to 459,713 TEUs, which represents 45.3% of total export volume. Exports to the Caribbean climbed an impressive 49% and shipments to North Europe surprised with a rebound of 19%. Mediterranean volumes, however, fell 18%.

To learn more about the details behind each of these shipments visit

Early Lunar New Year Contributes to Drop in U.S. Containerized Imports, Volume Down 5.8% in February

April 3, 2012

U.S. containerized imports in February fell for the first time in four months on a year-over-year basis, sliding 5.8% to 1,193,157 TEUs as demand for furniture, toys and footwear declined on early closing of factories in China and soft consumer spending. The month-to-month drop was even more dramatic, as February imports plunged 18.6% from January.

U.S. Containerized Imports

While the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, and related factory closings, made accurate Y-o-Y comparisons difficult, the 18.6% tumble from January suggests weakening volume, said Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce / PIERS. Prior to the slide, furniture, the largest import commodity group, had been leading an import surge.

February imports from Asia tumbled 10% Y-o-Y, after a 3% increase in January. Moreno noted that his first quarter forecast of 1% growth in trade from Asia might be a bit optimistic.

“Overall demand for imported home goods remains relatively modest as the pace of home sales recovers at a stubbornly slow manner,” Moreno said. “Meanwhile, consumer spending rose faster than incomes in February, mainly at the expense of savings, which raises a concern for the sustainability of spending in the long run.”

To uncover the details behind these shipments including information specific to individual companies, commodities, or geographic regions visit and register for a free demo.

U.S. Containerized Imports Up for 3rd Consecutive Month, Led by Growth in Furniture, Auto Parts

March 15, 2012

Steady sales growth in both automobiles and existing homes over the last few months drove U.S. container import volumes up 4.1% in January to 1,475,608 million TEUs. This marks the 3rd consecutive month of year-over-year imports increase, and a month-over-month climb of 11%.

U.S. Containerized Imports January 2012


Adding to a continuous expansion lasting more than two years, January imports of auto parts rose 19%, while home sales spurred a 3rd straight month of increases in furniture, up 6%. The activity in the housing market bodes well for the short-term outlook of these volumes — the largest import commodity group, said Mario O. Moreno, economist for PIERS/The Journal of Commerce.

“The overall employment market is modestly improving, but real consumer spending has remained flat in the last 3 months through January. Higher gasoline prices are a major risk to the import trade as lower disposable income will adversely affect spending on discretionary goods such as apparel, computers, and home goods,” Moreno cautioned, noting a 10% drop in menswear in January, though inbound shipments of footwear rose by 4% after several months of decline.

Imports from Asia continued to rise, up 2.9% in January, with shipments from China climbing the most, up 2% to 709,410 TEUs. Moreno forecasts a 2.5 percent increase in U.S. imports from Asia throughout 2012. Also of note, imports from Mexico grew 68% for this period.

Moreno’s detailed report can be found in the March 2012 issue of JOC Insights and additional analysis of the PIERS/JOC findings is available online at

Cool Cargo? Hot Data!

March 5, 2012

By 2014 container ships will transport three quarters of perishable reefer cargo as they take further market share from specialized refrigerated vessels, according to a new report by Drewry Maritime Research.  It was stated that the rise of containerized reefer shipping is depressing charter rates for refrigerated ships, which are facing a “cautious” financial outlook.  Reefer rates fell 10 percent in 2010 and are still retreating, although world trade in perishable products is increasing and demand for reefer capacity is “still healthy.” Container ships are forecast to carry some 74 percent of perishable reefer cargo by 2014, when they will provide up to 95 percent of capacity. But specialized reefer ships still have a future as niche carriers, the report said.

A Cool Cargoes track, taking place at TPM 2012 in Long Beach, CA will focus on the growth and capacity issues of the global cold chain including challenges in importing and exporting food products. Among the robust agenda will be the all important issue of temperature-controlled ocean service; with the continued contraction of the world’s specialized breakbulk reefer fleet and an increasing global demand for fresh fruits and vegetables along with meat, poultry and seafood, refrigerated containers are again in great demand. Along with increasing demand, practices such as ultra-slow steaming and a reduction of direct port calls put in place in recent years by container lines make it more challenging for shippers of perishable products to get goods to market with adequate shelf life remaining. Speakers from Maersk, Seatrade USA and Naturipe will discuss the implications of the service changes.

“The world’s growing middle class is spending a significant portion of their higher incomes to diversify and improve their diets,” said Peter Tirschwell, Senior Vice President for UBM Global Trade, the parent of The Journal of Commerce. “That has translated into record U.S. export shipments of beef, pork and poultry, along with increased imports of fruits and vegetables. With increased global consumer demand, reefer transportation has also come more into demand in all major trade lanes.”

PIERS has been a long time expert in reefer data and will be on site at the Cool Cargoes track providing a free reefer data report showing Top Trans Pacific Reefer Imports and Exports by Carrier, by Country and more.

Top 10 – Trans Pac Reefer Exports by Commodity

Can’t join us at TPM? Contact us today to speak to a sales rep about PIERS reefer data at 800.952.3839 or click here for an overview of our reefer data.

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