Stacked containers are shown as ships unload their cargo at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Port of Los Angeles Confirms Cargo Dip in November, Says Smaller Ships Are to Blame

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 3893
December 21, 2021

The Port of Los Angeles is on track for a record year even as cargo volumes dip in recent months. Exports hit 17-year low.

The final numbers are in! The Port of Los Angeles today reported finalized cargo volumes for November, confirming a 8.8% percent dip in throughput compared to November 2020.

Total TEUs came in at 811,460, about 78,000 fewer TEUs than in November 2020 and over 90,000 TEUs below September and October volumes. With November numbers in, the Port on Los Angeles has now seen year-over-year declines in three of the last four months, with the exception being September.

Breaking down November’s numbers further, imports landed at 403,444 TEUs, a 13.2% decline compared to the previous year. Loaded exports dropped 36.8% to 82,741 TEUs, making for lowest amount of exports from the Port of Los Angeles since September 2004. Exports have now fallen 33 out of the last 37 months.

Empty containers, in high demand for Trans-Pacific transit back to Asia, increased to 325,275, a rise of 10.6% compared to a year ago. 

The falling throughput numbers come during a record-breaking year for the top port in the United States for containerized imports. Even with recent declines, the Port of Los Angeles is still on pace to process approximately 10.7 million TEUs, about 13 percent more than its previous record set in 2018.

Overall, 2021 imports are on track for an all-time record of about 5.5 million TEUs, 13% higher than the 2018 import record.

Echoing comments made last week in releasing preliminary figures, Executive Director Gene Seroka said smaller containerships, which he said take nearly as long to process as larger ones, are contributing to the year-over-year monthly decline. Half of the 86 container vessels that arrived in November carried less than 5,300 TEU capacity, according to the port.

“As we approach a new cargo milestone amid this pandemic, I’m so proud of the resilience of this Port, our labor force and all of our partners,” said Seroka in releasing the final numbers. “While there is much more that we need to improve upon, we’re delivering record amounts of cargo and goods are making their way into the hands of consumers and manufacturers. 

“Moving into 2022, we’ll continue our focus on efficiency improvements, job creation and economic development,” Seroka said.

Eleven months into 2021, the Port has now processed 9,891,021 TEUs, 18.7% more than the same time last year. Doing the math, the Port of Los Angeles expects to move about 809,000 TEU in December, which would be down from 879,186 moved in December 2020.

In terms of congestion, the latest “KPIs” show the number of import containers on terminal at 60,855, including 18,955 dwelling nine days or more, plus another 76,000 empty containers on terminal and at off-dock facilities controlled by the port. According to the “Pool of Pools” website, 40-foot container chassis’ are dwelling on street (off terminals) for 9.3 days, down from a peak of 10 days.

Meanwhile the containership backup stands at 91, including 24 ships either anchored or loitering within 40 nautical miles and 67 outside the 150 mile safety and air quality exclusion zone.

Finally, the container dwell fee has been postponed of sixth time until at least December 27th.

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