Top 10 U.S. Container Ports

Tags: Ocean, Ports, Panama Canal, Transportation

Inbound Logistics dredges up data on the leading U.S. container hubs.

The extent to which the Panama Canal expansion will impact U.S. container trade patterns remains to be seen. But to some degree, the knock-on effect is already apparent. East Coast ports have been aggressively seeking funding to deepen harbors and improve accessibility that will entrench long-term support from carriers and shippers alike.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is busy raising the Bayonne Bridge at a cost of $1.3 billion to accommodate larger container ships. After more than one decade of legal wrangling, the Georgia Ports Authority has finally commenced a $706-million dredging project to deepen the Savannah harbor. Meanwhile, across the state of Florida, public and private sector interests have jumped on board a multimodal roadmap that is injecting billions of dollars into infrastructure upgrades along the Jacksonville-to-Miami corridor.

Container volumes in and out of East Coast ports are growing appreciably. While Los Angeles and Long Beach remain the bell cows of U.S. container throughput, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, and Virginia ports are the fastest growing hubs. Notably, they're all in the Southeast. Shifting demographics necessarily trigger an upswell in demand.

There are other considerations as well. Recurring labor strife at West Coast ports gives U.S. shippers and consignees more incentive to diversify port strategies. Flexibility and redundancy are imperatives.

Global sourcing dynamics are similarly changing. As China's low-cost competitiveness wanes, Southeast Asia and India are emerging as fitting suitors for U.S. offshore activity. This brings the Suez trade into play. On the horizon, the west coast of Africa looms as another source-from and sell-into magnet.

Shippers are even looking beyond the east and west coasts, especially as capacity tightens and sustainability mandates mature. Great Lake and Gulf Coast ports provide direct access to the North American hinterland, which is attractive for importers and exporters looking to shorten overland drays and reduce transportation costs.

Lastly, as larger containerships come online—there's even talk now of a 25,000-TEU prototype—port throughput becomes a differentiator. Back-door speed is just as important as front-door accessibility.

For these reasons and more, port selection is an important component of supply chain strategy. To help you make sense of where volume is trending, Inbound Logistics' Top 10 Container Ports provides a snapshot of the U.S. port industry.

Sources: Lloyd's List's Containerization International 2014 Top 100 Container Ports; American Association of Port Authorities; CIA's The World Factbook.

1. Port of Los Angeles

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 53'

portoflosangeles.org

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 8,340,065

YEAR-OVER-YEAR Growth: 6%

Inbound: 4,429,914 TEUs

Outbound: 3,910,151 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China/Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam

Imports

  • Furniture
  • Auto parts
  • Apparel
  • Electronics
  • Footwear

Exports

  • Paper/wastepaper
  • Pet and animal feeds
  • Scrap metal
  • Fabric
  • Soybeans

2. Port of Long Beach

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 76'

polb.com

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 6,820,806

Year-over-year Growth: 1.3%

Inbound: 3,517,514 TEUs

Outbound: 1,604,394 TEUs

Empties: 1,698,898 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China/Hong Kong
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Iraq
  • Australia
  • Ecuador
  • Indonesia

IMPORTS

  • Crude oil
  • Electronics
  • Plastics
  • Furniture
  • Clothing

EXPORTS

  • Petroleum coke
  • Petroleum bulk
  • Chemicals
  • Waste paper
  • Food

3. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 50'

panynj.gov/port

TRADE DATA

2013 Total TEUs: 5,467,347

2014 Total TEUS: 5,772,303

Year-over-year Growth: 5.6%

Inbound: 2,969,636 TEUs

Outbound: 2,802,667 TEUs

Empties: 1,240,091 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China/Hong Kong
  • India
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • Brazil
  • France
  • South Korea

IMPORTS

  • Furniture
  • Beverages
  • Machinery
  • Apparel

EXPORTS

  • Paper
  • Scrap and waste
  • Motor vehicles
  • Automobile parts
  • Household goods

4. Port of Seattle & Tacoma*

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 50-51'

nwseaportalliance.com

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 3,427,561

Year-over-year Growth: -0.2%

Inbound: 1,378,504 TEUs

Outbound: 1,178,324 TEUs

Domestic (Alaska and Hawaii): 870,733 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia

IMPORTS

  • Industrial machinery
  • Vehicles and parts
  • Electronics
  • Toys, games, and sports equipment
  • Apparel and footwear
  • Furniture
  • Aircraft and parts
  • Plastics

EXPORTS

  • Oil seeds and grains
  • Industrial machinery
  • Prepared vegetables, fruit, and nuts
  • Meat
  • Wood and wood products
  • Paper
  • Seafood

*In 2015 theSeattle and Tacoma port commissions formed The Northwest Seaport Alliance to unify management of the two ports' marine cargo terminals.

5. Port of Savannah

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 42'

gaports.com/portofsavannah

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 3,346,024

Year-over-year Growth: 10.3%

Inbound: 1,604,665 TEUs

Outbound: 1,741,359 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Turkey

IMPORTS

  • Consumer goods
  • Furniture
  • Machinery
  • Appliances
  • Electronics
  • Automotive
  • Hardware and housewares
  • Food

EXPORTS

  • Food
  • Wood pulp
  • Paper and paperboard
  • Clay
  • Fabrics
  • Consumer goods
  • Automotive

6. Port of Oakland

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 50'

portofoakland.com

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 2,394,069

Year-over-year Growth: 2%

Inbound: 845,810 TEUs

Outbound: 969,378 TEUs

Empties: 578,881 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Australia
  • Thailand
  • France
  • Germany

IMPORTS

  • Machinery
  • Apparel
  • Electronic equipment
  • Furniture
  • Wine and spirits
  • Plastics
  • Vehicles

EXPORTS

  • Fruits and nuts
  • Electrical machinery
  • Meats
  • Foodstuffs
  • Wine and spirits
  • Dairy products

7. Port of Virginia

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 50-55'

portofvirginia.com

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 2,393,038

Year-over-year Growth: 7.6%

Inbound: 1,017,879 TEUs

Outbound: 1,034,526 TEUs

Empties: 340,633 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • China
  • Germany
  • Brazil
  • Belgium
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands
  • India
  • Italy
  • Turkey

IMPORTS

  • Mineral fuel and oil
  • Grain, seeds, fruit
  • Wood and wood pulp
  • Food waste and animal feed

EXPORTS

  • Machinery
  • Furniture
  • Salt, sulphur, earth, and stone
  • Mineral fuel and oil
  • Beverages
  • Wood

8. The Port of Houston Authority

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 45'

portofhouston.com

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 1,958,251

Year-over-year Growth: 0.5%

Inbound: 736,104 TEUs

Outbound: 857,913 TEUs

Empties: 364,234 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • Brazil
  • China
  • India
  • The Netherlands
  • Turkey
  • Germany

IMPORTS

  • Iron/steel products
  • Machinery
  • Beverages
  • Organic chemicals
  • Petroleum and petroleum products
  • Stone, plaster, and cement

EXPORTS

  • Plastic
  • Petroleum and petroleum products
  • Machinery
  • Organic chemicals
  • Miscellaneous chemical products

9. Port of Charleston

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 47'

port-of-charleston.com

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 1,791,977

Year-over-year Growth: 11.9%

Inbound: 855,690 TEUs

Outbound: 936,287 TEUs

TRADE PARTNERS

  • Germany
  • China
  • India
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Japan
  • The Netherlands
  • Belgium

IMPORTS

  • Furniture
  • Auto parts
  • Fabrics
  • Raw cotton
  • General cargo

EXPORTS

  • Paper and paperboard
  • Wood pulp
  • Auto parts
  • Lumber
  • Fabrics
  • Raw cotton

10. Port of San Juan, Puerto Rico

MAIN CHANNEL DEPTH: 42'

prpa.pr.gov

TRADE DATA

2014 Total TEUs: 1,319,961

Year-over-year Growth: 3.9%

TRADE PARTNERS

  • United States
  • Netherlands
  • Dominican Republic
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Japan

IMPORTS

  • Chemicals
  • Machinery and equipment
  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Fish
  • Petroleum products

EXPORTS

  • Chemicals
  • Electronics
  • Apparel
  • Canned tuna
  • Rum
  • Beverage concentrates
  • Medical equipment





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