port of long beach

Port of Long Beach Breaks Monthly Cargo Record Again, Continuing Historic Recovery Run

Mike Schuler
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November 12, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach reported its busiest month ever again in October as the number of twenty-foot containers handled topped 800,000 for the first time in 109-year history of the port.

The Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second busiest port, said October container volumes rose more than 17% compared to the same period last year, hitting 806,603 TEUs. The breaks the port’s previous “best month” record set in just September by more than 11,000 TEUs, as imports continue to surge.

“The peak holiday shipping season is supporting our ongoing recovery and record highs, but we are now facing a new wave of COVID-19 cases spreading across the country and remain locked in a trade dispute with China,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “We are optimistic about the gradual economic recovery while bracing for any shocks still to come.”

Trade Imbalance

The surge comes as retailers continue to prepare for the holiday shopping season, a rise in e-commerce and an increased demand for gardening equipment, pet supplies and musical instruments, according to the Port of Long Beach.

Imports jumped 19.4% last month compared to October 2019 with 402,408 TEUs, highlighting the strong demand for products from Asia, in particular China. Exports meanwhile continued to trend below last year’s volumes, falling 13.9% to to 114,679. Empty containers headed back overseas grew 31.8% to 289,517 TEUs as shipping lines scramble to reposition empty containers back to Asia amid a growing container shortage there.

The Port had 94 container ship calls in October, 18 of which were unscheduled vessels that made up for voyages canceled earlier this year.

October’s figures mark the third time in 2020 that the Port has broken an all-time record for cargo movements within a single month.

In July 2020, the Port processed 753,081 TEUs, surpassing the previous single-month record set in June 2018 by nearly 900 TEUs. The record fell a second time in September 2020, when the Port processed 795,580 TEUs. October 2020 surpassed the previous month’s mark by 1.4%.

Year-to-date, the Port of Long Beach has moved 6,513,908 TEUs during the first 10 months of 2020, up 2.3% from the same period in 2019.

“Our string of recent records show that our persistence and ability to work with industry and workforce partners allowed us to continue growing amid a critical time for our nation,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Frank Colonna. “The Port of Long Beach has a lengthy history of adapting to the needs of our customers during the best of times and the most difficult of times.”

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