Port of LA Headed Toward Record Cargo Year, Data Show

Port of Los Angeles
Port of Los Angeles
Busy container traffic in the Port of Los Angeles’ Pier 300 channel. File photo courtesy of Port of LA.

As of late December, the Port of Los Angeles was on track to establish a new record for cargo throughput in 2021, processing more volume than any port in the Western Hemisphere, port data show.

This was despite a dip in overall cargo numbers for November year-over-year.

Eleven months into 2021, the port had processed 9,891,021 TEUs, 18.7% more than the same time last year. With two weeks left in 2021, the port was anticipating its final volume being about 10.7 million TEUs for the year, about 13% more than its previous record, which was set in 2018.

The Port of LA has remained open, with all terminals operational, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. “Moving into 2022, we’ll continue our focus on efficiency improvements, job creation and economic development.”

Overall November cargo volume dipped 8.8% to 811,460 TEUs compared to last year, according to port data. Half of the 86 container vessels that arrived in November carried less than 5,300 TEU capacity. Smaller vessels can take nearly as long to process as larger ones and was a contributing factor in the year-over-year monthly decline.

November imports landed at 403,444 TEUs, a 13.2% decline compared to the previous year, port numbers show. Overall, however, 2021 imports were on track in December for an all-time record of about 5.5 million TEUs, 13% higher than the 2018 import record.

Loaded exports dropped 36.8% to 82,741 TEUs in November compared to 2020. Exports have declined in 33 of the last 37 months, while empty containers, in high demand for Trans-Pacific transit back to Asia, increased to 325,275, a rise of 10.6% compared to the same month a year ago.

For a snapshot of the port’s current operational status, including the latest data available for monitoring cargo, tracking vessels, and gauging terminal activity, visit portoflosangeles.org/dashboard.