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Photo courtesy Port of Los Angeles

San Pedro Bay Ports Get Off to a Busy Start in 2024

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1447
March 18, 2024

California’s San Pedro Bay ports have experienced one of their busiest February’s on record, continuing to outpace expectations as U.S. imports surge.

The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest container port, reported processing 781,434 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) this February, representing a significant 60% increase compared to the same period last year. This marks the seventh consecutive month of year-on-year growth for the port.

“Our operational data suggests that cargo is flowing efficiently, with extra capacity available. With the ongoing consumer spending and positive economic indicators, the Port of Los Angeles is well-positioned as we transition into the second quarter,” said Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles.

Loaded imports at the Port of Los Angeles reached 408,764 TEUs in February, up 64% from the previous year, making it the third busiest February for imports behind 2022 and 2021. Loaded exports also saw an increase of 61% compared to last year, with the port handling 132,755 TEUs. The port also processed 239,916 empty containers, a 54% increase over 2023. In the first two months of 2024, the port has managed a total of 1,637,086 TEUs, marking a 35% increase over the same period in 2023.

Meanwhile, the neighboring Port of Long Beach reported processing 674,723 TEUs last month, a 24.1% increase from February 2023. The port attributed the boost in cargo shipments to cooling inflation, rising consumer confidence, and efforts to regain market share.

The Port of Long Beach CEO, Mario Cordero, emphasized their ongoing efforts to attract more business to the West Coast. “We’re also investing in infrastructure projects to ensure our competitiveness and sustainability for the future,” Cordero said.

February imports at the Port of Long Beach were up 29.4% to 329,850 TEUs, while exports declined 21.1% to 87,474 TEUs. Empty containers moving through the Port increased 44.8% to 257,400 TEUs.

Unlike Los Angeles, February 2024 marked only the fifth busiest February for loaded imports at Long Beach behind 2022, 2021, 2019, and 2018. Over the first two months of 2024, the Port of Long Beach has handled 1,348,738 TEUs, a 20.7% increase from the same period in 2023.

The strong cargo numbers come as the National Retail Federation projects a 7.8% increase in inbound cargo volumes at major U.S. container ports for the first half of this year, reaching 11.5 million TEU, as supply chains have adjusted to on-going Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

According to Descartes’ latest Global Shipping Report, top U.S. West Coast ports actually lost import market share to East and Gulf Coast ports in February, as the Panama drought and Middle East conflict had less of an impact than anticipated.

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