For the first time in its history, the Port of Long Beach has surpassed nine million cargo containers in a calendar year, according to new data released Wednesday.
The nation’s second busiest seaport handled more than 9.38 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in 2021, besting the previous record of more than 8.11 million TEUs, set in 2020.
Imports in 2021 rose 14.6% to more than 4.58 million TEUs, while exports fell 2.6% to 1.43 million TEUs when compared to 2020. Empty containers rose 27.5% to more than 3.36 million TEUs, according to port data.
The milestone came despite last month’s decreased numbers, with overall cargo in December down 7.5% year-over-year at 754,314 TEUs. Imports fell 11.7% to 358,687 TEUs and exports dipped 13.9% to 113,918 TEUs. Meanwhile, empty containers rose 1.5% to 281,709 TEUs last month compared to the same time the previous year.
The port attributed the record numbers to pandemic-related consumer demand for office supplies, furniture and exercise equipment.
“This incredible milestone was achieved by the skilled workers who keep goods moving through the supply chain as we continue to seek solutions to improve efficiency, attract business and build for the future,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “I look forward to enhancing productivity in 2022 by advancing our move toward 24/7 terminal operations, deploying data-sharing technologies for our industry partners and continuing our infrastructure improvements.”