Credit: Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles Sees Cargo Volumes Dip in October

Mike Schuler
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November 18, 2021

Bogged down by dwelling imports and empties, October cargo volumes through the Port of Los Angeles fall year-over-year despite long line up of ships waiting to offsload.

The Port of Los Angeles reported October volumes of 902,644 TEUs, a decrease of 8% compared from last year when it handled record monthly volumes.

Still, year-to-date overall cargo volume through the Port of Los Angeles, the top container port in the United States, has increased 22% over 2020. 

“Amid the array of challenges facing the supply chain, we continue to deliver more cargo than ever,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka, in announcing the monthly statistics. “The National Retail Federation is forecasting a record holiday season as many outlets such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot report strong sales.”

Seroka said clearing docks of imports and empties remains a top priority as more than “As a result, we’ve seen a marked improvement of fluidity on our marine terminals, which allows  more vessels to be processed,” he said.  

The port’s announcement highlighted a reported 31% drop – from 94,981 to 65,080 – in the number of import containers on Port of Los Angeles marine terminals from October 24, the day before the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced fines for import containers dwelling nine days or more. Import containers dwelling 9+ days has declined 35%, from 37,410 to 24,361, the port said.

October loaded imports reached 467,287 TEUs, an 8% decline compared to the previous year. Loaded exports also dropped 32% to 98,251 TEUs compared to 2020. 

Empty containers shipped overseas increased to 337,106 TEUs, an increase of 2% year-over-year. Officials have said ocean carriers are bringing in additional “sweeper” ships to load out empty containers, freeing up space on the docks.

Ten months into 2021, the Port has processed 9,079,562 TEUs, 22% more than the 7,444,464 TEUs handled at this time last year.

Port of Los Angeles import container dwell report from November 17, 2021.

Separate from the monthly announcement, the Port of Los Angeles’ daily cargo operations report from Thursday showed 68,397 import containers on dock, including 25,122 containers sitting 9 days or more. Meanwhile, the number of empties on dock at terminals and off-dock depots has increased to 71,800.

The October numbers come as the San Pedro Bay ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, saw a record ship logjam at anchorages and loitering areas, with nearly 80 containerships waiting to offload between the two ports for most of the month. Officials with the Marine Exchange of Southern California this week reported that the number of ships at anchor and loitering even hit a record of 86 containerships on Tuesday.

October set the all-time record for containers handled by the Port of Los Angeles with 980,728 TEUs. That record was broken in May of this year when it handled 1,012,047 TEUs, marking the first time a North American port has ever handled more than a million TEUs in a single month. Los Angeles also handled 903,865 TEU in September for its busiest September on record.

Next door at the Port of Long Beach, October volumes fell to 789,716 TEUs, down 2.1% from last year when it had its busiest October to date.

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