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Discover the 10 Busiest Ports in the United States

Posted on May 1, 2023

A port is a harbor or other landing spot along a coast, lake, or river for boats and vessels transferring cargo and people. Cargo containers are loaded and unloaded, continuing on their journey until the goods reach their final destination. Ports are an essential part of everyday life. They are significant for trade, commercial welfare, military, and employment.

As a major transportation hub, ports facilitate the movement of consumer products, parts, and raw materials. And as one of the largest consumer markets in the world, the United States has many large and busy ports throughout the country. Discover the ten busiest ports in the United States by cargo capacity (TEU), including their locations and commodities.

1. Port of Los Angeles (9.9 Million TEUs)

The Los Angeles Port is the busiest port in the United States and has been for over 20 years.

The Port of Los Angeles has been the busiest container port in the United States (and North America) for over 20 years. The port is located 25 miles south of Los Angeles in San Pedro Bay, where it sits along 43 miles of waterfront. In 2022, the Port of Los Angeles brought in 9.9 million containers and half a billion dollars in revenue. Not only does the port move cargo, but it also features terminals for passengers attending cruises.

Top Export Commodities: Scrap metal, paper, animal feed, soybeans, and raw cotton

Top Import Commodities: Furniture, clothing, plastics, auto parts, and shoes

2. Port of New York and New Jersey (9.5 Million TEUs)

The New York and New Jersey Port is the largest on the East Coast.

The Port of New York and New Jersey is a close second for the busiest port in the United States. It is, however, the largest container port on the East Coast. The port district encompasses an area within 25 miles of the Statue of Liberty and includes many navigable waterways. In 2022, the port handled its highest amount of cargo ever, with nearly 9.5 million TEUs.

Top Export Commodities: Soybeans, grocery items, animal feed, dairy products, and meat

Top Import Commodities: Beverages, wine, beer, grocery items, coffee, and vegetables

3. Port of Long Beach (9.1 Million TEUs)

The Port of Long Beach, normally in the number two spot, is now third-largest port in the country.

Normally the number two spot, the Port of Long Beach has seen a decrease in cargo volume. But the amount of products coming and going from the port is still massive. It occupies 25 miles of waterfront in Long Beach and is a significant portal for American and Asian trade. Even with a 2.1% decrease from 2021, the Port of Long Beach still moved 9.1 million TEUs.

Top Export Commodities: Petroleum coke, petroleum bulk, chemicals, paper, and food

Top Import Commodities: Crude oil, electronics, plastics, furniture, and clothing

4. Port of Savannah (5.9 Million TEUs)

Port of Savannah is the fastest growing in the United States.

The Port of Savannah may not be the biggest, but it’s one of the fastest-growing ports in the country, with an annual growth rate of 16.5% in the early 2000s. In 2022, its container traffic was 5.9 million TEUs, an increase of five percent from the previous year. You will find the port 18 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, where it lines both sides of the Savannah River.

Top Export Commodities: Poultry, raw cotton, animal feed, grocery items, bulbs, and seeds

Top Import Commodities: Sugar, palm oil, beer, other beverages, wine, onions, and shrimp

5. Port of Houston (3.9 Million TEUs)

The Port of Houston, the busiest in the nation in terms of foreign tonnage, is accessed by a 54-mile long ship channel. In an average day more than 700 vessel transit the channel.

The Port of Houston features a 50-mile-long complex in one of the largest cities in the country. Technically, Houston Port Authority is the largest port of foreign tonnage in the United States but the fifth-largest in terms of container traffic. This port produced 3.9 million TEUs in 2022. It is located along the waterways of the Gulf of Mexico.

Top Export Commodities: Bulk grains, grease, grocery items, soybeans, meat, and poultry

Top Import Commodities: Guar gum, molasses, beer, other beverages, bananas, wine, and coffee

6. Port of Virginia (3.7 Million TEUs)

The Port of Virginia produced 3.7 million TEUs in 2022.

Located on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, the Port of Virginia features six terminals across 1,800 acres. In the fiscal year of 2022, the Virginia port produced 3.7 million TEUs, surpassing the previous year’s cargo volume by 14%. Its 2022 numbers boast record volumes.

Top Export Commodities: Soybeans, grain products, animal feed, grocery items, and soybean oil

Top Import Commodities: Non-alcoholic beverages, coffee, tobacco, wine, frozen fish, and dextrose

7. Port of Seattle (3.4 Million TEUs)

The Port of Seattle is the third busiest port on the West Coast.

After Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Port of Seattle is the third-largest port on the West Coast. The port is run by a government agency and has one of the most significant impacts on the economy of the Pacific Northwest. As of 2022, Seattle’s port handled 3.4 million TEUs, which is down by 9.4% from 2021 (3.7 million).

Top Export Commodities: Grain products, soybeans, animal feed, vegetables, fruit, and frozen fish

Top Import Commodities: Coffee, frozen fish, fruit, wine, beverages, canned pineapples, and molasses

8. Port of Charleston (2.8 Million TEUs)

The Port of Charleston is one of the most valuable ports in the country in terms of cargo value.

Located in Charleston along the south channel and the Cooper River, the Port of Charleston is a historic port featuring multiple cargo and passenger terminals. In 2020, it was ranked as one of the most valuable ports in the country in terms of cargo value. It also reported a record 2.8 million TEUs for 2022, up 1.5% from the previous year.

Top Export Commodities: Poultry, meat, grocery items, animal feed, soybeans, bourbon, and cotton

Top Import Commodities: Coffee, wine, palm oil, vegetables, gluten, animal feed, and non-alcoholic beverages

9. Port of Oakland (2.3 Million TEUs)

Port of Oakland is the fourth-largest port on the West Coast.

The city of Oakland owns the Port of Oakland, and it is the fourth-largest port on the West Coast. It covers 1,300 acres and features four marine terminals. The city has big expansion plans for the port, with its main goal to add jobs and increase economic stimulus. The Port of Oakland registered 2.3 million TEUs in 2022, increasing 4% from the previous year.

Top Export Commodities: Edible nuts, meat, animal feed, rice, tomatoes, and wine

Top Import Commodities: Wine, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, grocery items, rice, meat, and beer

10. Port of Miami (1.2 Million TEUs)

The Port of Miami is the tenth-busiest in the United States.

The Port of Miami, or PortMiami, is the tenth-busiest port in the United States. It is located in Biscayne Bay at the Miami River’s mouth. While it may not be the largest cargo port in the country, it is the largest passenger port in the world. The port suffered from the pandemic, but it has slowly increased from the lows it experienced in 2019. In 2022, PortMiami saw cargo volumes of 1.2 million TEUs.

Top Export Commodities: Grocery items, non-alcoholic beverages, grapefruit, citrus fruit juices, poultry, and grain products

Top Import commodities: Fruit, non-alcoholic beverages, beer, vegetables, frozen fish, shrimp, and wine


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