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

Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Off to a Strong Start in 2024

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2213
February 14, 2024

The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are off to a strong start in 2024, with significant gains in the amount of imports handled compared to last year.

The surge is largely attributed to a strong U.S. economy and retailers seeking to replenish their inventories ahead of the Lunar New Year, when factories across Asia typically close for up to two weeks.

The Port of Los Angeles processed 855,652 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in January, marking the second-busiest start to a year in its history, eclipsed only by the pandemic-induced cargo surge in 2022. January’s performance also represents the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year cargo growth at the port, and an 18% increase compared to January 2023.

Loaded imports increased by 19% to 441,763 TEUs, while loaded exports also rose by 23% to 126,554 TEUs. The port processed 287,336 empty containers, a 14% increase over 2023.

“Two factors are driving our strong start,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said at today’s media briefing. “First, cargo owners have been replenishing inventories and moving goods at a fast clip ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which will slow production in Asia… Second, consumer spending and mostly strong economic data continue to accelerate the American economy.”

Seroka also highlighted last season’s holiday sales grew nearly 4%, with strong job growth and other key indicators trending in a positive direction.

Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach reportedly similarly strong volumes. The port handled 674,015 TEUs in January, a 17.5% rise from the same month in the previous year. Despite a 18.1% decrease in exports, the port saw a 23.5% increase in imports and a 28% increase in empty containers.

Mario Cordero, the Port of Long Beach CEO, noted that retailers filled their warehouses in January in anticipation of the slower import activity typically seen during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

“We are ready to grow our volumes and hope to see continued growth through 2024 as we gradually recapture market share,” said Cordero.

The strong start to 2024 marks the fifth consecutive monthly year-over-year increase at the Port of Long Beach, following 13 consecutive months of declining volumes.

At his monthly media briefing, Gene Seroka was joined by California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, who highlighted the need for infrastructure and sustainability investments in California’s ports and freight system.

“California’s historic investments in our state’s supply chain infrastructure are designed to make our ports more competitive and sustainable,” said Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. “With updates in infrastructure, digitalization, and zero-emission projects at the Port of Los Angeles, California’s supply chains are moving goods efficiently, accelerating the decarbonization of the state freight sector, all while creating high-quality jobs.”

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