Young Brothers Ltd. reported "a small drop" Tuesday in its Neighbor Island cargo shipments of minus 2.7 percent for the second quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2011, and a 0.1 percent decline for 2012's first half.
Young Brothers' busiest Neighbor Island port is Kahului, which was down just shy a percentage point, or 0.9 percent, according to a report. Maui handled 11,263 containers, or only 103 fewer than a year ago.
Roy Catalani, Young Brothers vice president of strategic planning and government affairs, has said that Maui had been benefiting primarily from inbound cargo. He did not immediately have specifics on Maui cargo available, but he would compile data for the Valley Isle next quarter.
However, Young Brothers officials stated that the containers filled with myriad items, many if not most for sale, are a "key barometer" of Neighbor Island economic activity.
However, the Hawaii shipping company stated in a report completed June 30 that while the company may have dipped a bit, overall volume remained flat for the first half of 2012.
In this year's first fiscal quarter, from January to March, interstate shipping numbers were up 2.6 percent compared with the same time the year before, according to a prior Young Brothers' report.
"The drop in second-quarter volume reflects the continued economic uncertainty," stated Glenn Hong, president of Young Brothers, in a news release issued Tuesday. "While we would prefer to reflect positive comparisons like we experienced in the first quarter of the year, the Neighbor Island economies at least appear to be stabilizing.
"The drop in second quarter volume neutralized the uptick we saw in the first quarter of the year," Hong said. "Year to date, volume is basically the same as this point last year, meaning the Neighbor Island economies are hanging in there."
The numbers only reflect transportation between the company's Honolulu hub and its six other ports, including Maui County's Kahului, Molokai and Lanai, said Kevin Cockett on Tuesday, of Cockett Communications Inc., which consults with Young Brothers.
Young Brothers, unlike some other Hawaii sea or air transportation companies, does not ship to and from the Mainland.
In addition, Young Brothers measures its shipping volume with its own standardized 20-foot-long container unit, to unify all the sizes, weights and items carried, Cockett said. The total number of its containers went down at all ports from 33,795 a year ago to 32,884 this quarter.
Molokai's Kaunakakai Harbor took the greatest per capita hit - yet again - at minus 11.4 percent.
Meanwhile, Lanai was up 18.8 percent. Young Brothers officials said that's because the shipper now delivers fuel to Kaumalapau Harbor after an old oil barge was recently decommissioned.
Another bright company spot was more success in shipping local agricultural goods, this time up 7 percent, also from the same time a year ago, officials stated. The products receive a shipping discount of up to 35 percent as long as they are locally grown.
Hong has publicly said he is heartened to see interest continue in homegrown food. He has said supporting Hawaii's agricultural industry is critical for the state's future.
For more information, go online to www.youngbrothershawaii.com.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.