Posted on January 26, 2021
Total 2020 POLA volume—at 9,213,395 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units)—were down 1.33%, or 124,236 TEU, annually, and over at POLB, 2020 turned in its highest-volume year ever, coming in at 8,113,315 TEU, for a 6.3% annual increase.
By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor · January 21, 2021
Amid generationally challenging market conditions, specifically over the first half of the year, 2020 volumes, for the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB), saw solid gains to finish the year.
Total 2020 POLA volume—at 9,213,395 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units)—were down 1.33%, or 124,236 TEU, annually. While this marks an annual decline, it came in as the fourth highest-volume year in the port’s history.
In his recent State of the Port Address, POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka said that the port’s container business, which serves as the port’s primary economic driver, was the most erratic the port has seen to date.
“By May 2020, our volume had plunged nearly 19%,” he said. “Then, in the second half of the year, American consumer demand created a pandemic-induced purchasing boom that our economy has never seen before. Our second-half volume increased nearly 50%. The week before Christmas, we handled 94% more traffic than the same week in 2019. In 2020, under the weight of the surge, everybody in the cargo industry took a hit—from ocean carriers all the way to your local package delivery vans. All of us were stretched. No one escaped criticism, and we are still moving extraordinary levels of cargo.”
Total December 2020 POLA volume—at 879,186 TEU—saw a 17.74% annual increase. Imports—at 460,865—rose 23.39%, for the same period, and exports—at 120,265 TEU—slipped 7.65%. Empty containers—at 298,056 TEU—were up 22.65%.
This December tally represents the second-best December on record, for POLA, second only to December 2018, which topped 903,000 TEU. And the second quarter was its highest-volume quarter ever.
Port of Long Beach data: Over at POLB, 2020 turned in its highest-volume year ever, coming in at 8,113,315 TEU, for a 6.3% annual increase. Imports—at 3,998,340 TEU—headed up 6.4%, and exports—at 1,475,888—eked out a 0.2% gain. Empty containers rose 9.9%, to 2,639,088 TEU.
And for the fourth quarter, POLB processed 2,406,010 TEU, which represents a 23% annual increase, while also setting a new record, topping the third quarter of 2020 by 131,740 TEU.
Total December POLB volume—at 815,885 TEU—was up 22.6%. Imports—at 406,072 TEU—were up 25.6%, and exports—at 132,374 TEU—grew by 5.6%. Empty containers saw a 26.3% increase, to 263,852 TEU.
“I want to thank our frontline workers on the docks who kept cargo moving during this unprecedented moment in history, ensuring the safe, secure and timely delivery of vital medical equipment and consumer goods,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, in a statement. “We have all endured incredible hardships with COVID-19, but I am looking forward to 2021 as a time of economic recovery and a renewed focus on our industry partners, infrastructure projects and community stakeholders.”