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A worker on a container crane at the Port of Los Angeles

Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles Eyes Continued Momentum as Container Volumes Surge

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1357
April 17, 2024

The Port of Los Angeles reported a 19% increase in container units handled in March, marking the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year growth.

The port processed 743,417 TEUs in March, bringing its first quarter throughput to 2.38 million TEUs. This represents a nearly 30% increase from 2023, making it one of the port’s best first-quarter starts behind the import surge seen during the pandemic in 2021 and 2022.

March’s performance showed improvements across all categories. Loaded imports landed at 379,542 TEUs, up 19% compared to the previous year. Loaded exports came in at 144,718 TEUs, an increase of 47% compared to last year. This marked the port’s best month for exports since January 2020 and the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year export gains.

The port also processed 219,158 empty containers, a 7% increase over 2023.

Gene Seroka, Executive Director at the Port of Los Angeles, said the port expects April throughput to exceed 700,000 TEUs despite being slack season. March 2023 volume came in at 623,233 TEUs. He’s also anticipating “healthy cargo flow” to continue into the summer and the peak shipping season.

“Moving into April and the second quarter, I expect robust cargo flow to continue here,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka at today’s media briefing. “A strong job market and continued consumer spending, along with our ability to handle additional volume, will help drive cargo to Los Angeles in the coming months.”

The first quarter of 2024 has proven to be a strong start for total U.S. container imports, according to a recent report from Descartes. Looking ahead, Port of Los Angeles cargo numbers could benefit from drought conditions at the Panama, upcoming labor negotiations at U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports, the on-going security situation in the Red Sea, and impacts from the Baltimore Key Bridge collapse.

The National Retail Federation has steadily raised its forecast for U.S. container imports in recent months. The first half of 2024 is now projected to total 11.7 million TEUs, which would mark an 11% increase from the same period last year.

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