Though 2021 has been notable for shipping disruptions that have snarled global supply chains, not all of the news has been bad this year. For instance, California’s Port of Oakland recently announced that its beef exports were up 25% between January and July 2021 over the previous year. “Demand for high-quality U.S. meat products is off the charts,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said in a release.
According to port officials, Oakland exported 25,200 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers of beef through July, topping the 20,100 it moved during the same period last year. Oakland estimated the total value of its beef exports through the first seven months of 2021 at $1.5 billion.
Nearly all of the beef exported from Oakland has gone to Asia, where Covid restrictions on restaurant dining have sparked a jump in retail beef sales, the port explained. Broken down by country, 55% of those beef exports (as measured by container volume) have gone to Japan, 24% to China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), and 19% to South Korea, the port said.Port officials said the boom validates its recent investments in the international cold chain, including a significant expansion in its chilled- and frozen-cargo handling capacity. Beef reaches the port from producers in California and the Midwest, who ship tons of beef to Oakland in railcars. The goods are then transferred to containers at temperature-controlled storage facilities in the seaport and finally moved down the street to waiting ships.