Retailers and manufacturers are flying more goods around the shipping crisis in the Red Sea, industry experts say, helping boost international airfreight operators after a long period of sagging cargo volumes. The strategy, the latest sign of how companies are adjusting their supply chains in response to geopolitical shock waves and disruptions, comes as European importers are seeking to avoid delays caused by longer voyages around Africa by containerships that usually travel through the Suez Canal. The demand is contributing to a busy airfreight market during what is traditionally a slow period.

Inbound cargo volume at the nation’s major container ports in the month of May is expected to top 2 million units for the first time since last fall, as imports grow despite new supply chain challenges, according to the Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. “U.S. imports are continuing to increase despite another disruption impacting U.S. ports,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “As retailers have adjusted to limits on the use of the Panama Canal and the Red Sea, we now face the shutdown of the Port of Baltimore to vessel traffic. While it is not expected to have a national impact, the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge shows the ongoing need for flexibility and resiliency in every company’s supply chain. We are monitoring the situation closely as retailers who are affected adjust their shipping plans to ensure cargo is getting to where it needs to be.”

The Biden administration announced a $6.6 billion grant on Monday designed to commit the world’s top chipmaker to mass-produce its next generation of microchips in Arizona. “For the first time ever, we will be making, at scale, the most advanced semiconductor chips on the planet here in the United States,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said to reporters ahead of the announcement. “These are the chips that underpin all artificial intelligence, and they are the chips that are necessary components for the technologies that we need to underpin our economy, but frankly a 21st century military and national security apparatus.”

Amazon’s largest facility in Massachusetts had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday. The five-story fulfillment center in North Andover is on the site of a former telephone company factory and is spread out over almost 4 million square feet, according to the newspaper. With 12 miles of conveyor belts and thousands of robots to automate goods processed in the facility, it is Amazon’s first highly automated warehouse in the state. The facility cost about $400 million to build. Amazon was granted $27 million in property tax breaks for the warehouse over 10 years by North Andover, which approved the project in 2019. The center will employ 1,500 people.

Verdant Technologies says is partnering with Sobeys Inc. to expand the adoption of its HarvestHold Fresh product in Canada to improve the sustainability and efficiency of the North American broccoli supply chain. HarvestHold Fresh is an in-box sheet that uses an industry-standard ingredient, widely used in commodities like apples and flowers for more than two decades, to extend freshness and shelf life, according to a news release. HarvestHold Fresh is placed in produce boxes immediately after harvest to slow ripening and maturation so that produce can maintain its vitality and taste for longer. Verdant Technologies says HarvestHold Fresh eliminates the need for ice when transporting broccoli, significantly reducing water use and optimizing space, which creates a more sustainable method of shelf-life preservation and makes transportation more efficient.

If the U.S. Postal Service gets its way, the price of a first-class stamp will go up for the fourth time in less than two years. The USPS is proposing hiking the cost of a first-class stamp to 73 cents, or roughly 7% on all forms of postage. If approved, the plan, which was announced on Tuesday, will raise the price of metered 1-ounce letters to 69 cents, international ounce-size letters and postcards to $1.65 and domestic postcards to 56 cents. The proposal has been sent to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for final approval. If the commission signs off, the new prices will take effect in July.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Master of Puppets by Metallica.

The post This Week in Logistics News (April 6 – 12) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.