Lower costs lead shippers to choose cross-Gulf vs. overland routes
World Direct Shipping has replaced a chartered vessel with its own ship in the carrier’s two-year-old Gulf of Mexico service, which provides an alternative to overland shipment between the eastern U.S. and central and southern Mexico.
The Queen B has capacity of 700 twenty-foot-equivalent units and has 128 refrigerated cargo plugs. It replaces the Falmouth, a similarly sized chartered ship, in World Direct’s weekly service between Port Manatee, Florida, and Coatzacoalcos, Mexico.
Congestion and delays, transportation costs, and concerns about cargo security and highway weights are encouraging shippers to take a closer look at alternatives to highway routing of U.S.-Mexico shipments. For example, Samsung runs a service from Mexico to Miami, while SeaLand in December added a service to Philadelphia.
New service to Progreso from Tampa
Last month, cross-Gulf carrier Linea Peninsular added a weekly service linking Port Tampa Bay with the Mexican ports of Progreso and Altamira. International Shipholding’s CG Railway has operated railcar-on-ship operation between Mobile, Alabama, and Coatzacoalcos for several years.
In addition, several global carriers call the Mexican ports of Altamira or Veracruz and the U.S. Gulf ports of Houston, New Orleans and Mobile at the start or end of longer services to and from Europe or South America.
World Direct’s Florida-Mexico vessel operates on a weekly shuttle between Port Manatee and Coatzacoalcos, with a two-and-a-half-day transit.
Carlos Diaz, business director of World Direct Services, said shippers can save $1,000 to $1,500 per container by using ocean transport instead of trucking to move goods between the eastern U.S. and central and southern Mexico.
Diaz said water shipment also allows shippers to move heavier containerized cargo that World Direct transloads into highway-legal trailers at its Port Manatee warehouse.
He estimated that 70 percent to 80 percent of the company’s shipments include trucking services the carrier arranges as part of an intermodal move. He said World Direct serves U.S. inland points east of the Mississippi River.
Most cargo on the route is northbound, and includes perishables, sugar, manufactured wood products, and phosphate-based food additives. Southbound shipments include machinery, recycled materials, and chemicals.
At Port Manatee, World Direct is one of two container carriers, along with Del Monte, which imports fruit and exports various backhaul cargo. Through the first five months of this year, the port’s imports totaled 6,332 TEUs, down 15.3 percent from last year, while exports were 2,992 TEUs, up 39.9 percent, according to PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS Markit.