Port of Long Beach handles record 9.4m teu in 2021

The Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach set a record of 9.38m teu in 2021 as dockworkers and terminal operators worked to clear the docks amid a historic, pandemic-induced import surge.

Representing a year-on-year increase of just under 16% from the 8.11m teu handled in 2020, imports jumped 15% to 4.5m teu while exports declined 3% to 1.4m teu compared to last year.

Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach executive director, said: “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.

“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.”

Empty containers moving through the port were up 28% to 3.4m teu.

The significant increase in cargo was driven by evolving consumer spending habits during the COVID-19 pandemic, when demand for vacations, dining out and entertainment declined due to health precautions and pivoted toward home office supplies, furniture, and exercise equipment.

Steven Neal, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbour Commissioners, said: “The ongoing collaboration with our labour force and industry partners lifted us to this extraordinary record during a challenge time.

“We anticipate further collaboration in 2022 as we work toward developing immediate and long-term solutions that will alleviate congestion at our port complex.”

The Port of Long Beach had 980 container vessel calls in 2021, down 1,042 a year earlier due to the elimination of ‘dual calls’ for some shipping services that moved up and down the West Coast.

The port has collaborated with stakeholders at the local, state and federal levels to enhance cargo movements, including: expanding hours of operation; creating temporary staging areas for full containers; and encouraging truck drivers to drop off export containers when picking up an import.

Additionally, a container dwell free announced back in October 2021 that would charge ocean carriers for cargo containers that remain too long on the docks has been delayed.

Since it was announced, Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have seen a combined decline of 55% in aging cargo on the docks.

Trade was down 7.5% in December compared to the same period in 2020 with 754,314 cargo container units moved.

Imports declined 12% to 358,687 teu and exports dropped 14% to 113,918 teu while empty containers climbed 1.5% to 281,709 teu.