The West Coast came in last among the three coasts in year-over-year percentage growth in the U.S. 2011 container trade, and lost market share.
Leading the way in growth was the Gulf Coast, up 5.9 percent to 2.2 million 20-foot equivalent units, according to PIERS, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce. The Gulf, of course, is working off the smallest cargo base, so its increase of 122,451 TEUs, although nearly 20 percent behind the East Coast’s 667,058-TEU increase, still registers most on the growth scale. The East Coast posted a 5.5 percent increase, to 12.9 million TEUs, and the West Coast’s 14.5 million TEUs were up 3 percent.
Overall U.S. trade was up 4.3 percent, to 29.6 million TEUs, according to PIERS.
The numbers underscore a key trend in U.S. container shipping markets: The slow market share gains in the East and on the Gulf at the expense of the West Coast and its long-term dominance. The U.S. West Coast’s 2011 share of U.S. container trade slipped 0.6 percentage point year-over-year to 49.1 percent. The East Coast’s share rose 0.5 percentage point to 43.5 percent, and the Gulf inched up 0.1 point to a 7.4 percent share.
U.S. container imports in 2011 grew 3 percent year-over-year. West Coast imports rose 0.9 percent to 9.3 million TEUs, with a 54.4 percent market share. The East Coast registered 5.2 percent growth to 6.9 million TEUs, with a 40.3 percent share, and the Gulf Coast rose 8.3 percent to 0.9 million TEUs, with a 5.3 percent share.
U.S. container exports increased 6.1 percent year-over-year to 12.5 million TEUs, with the West Coast leading the way with a 6.9 percent increase, to 5.2 million TEUs and a 41.8 percent market share. The East Coast retained its lead in market share, 47.9 percent after a 5.8 percent increase in exports to nearly 6 million TEUs. Exports through the Gulf Coast grew 4.3 percent to nearly 1.3 million TEUs, for a 10.3 percent share of the market.
Combined, the Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach held 71.4 percent of the 2011 West Coast container trade; the Pacific Northwest ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Portland held a 16.7 percent share; and Oakland handled 10.8 percent of the West Coast container trade. The top six ports combined held a 98.8 percent share of the West Coast total.
Contact Marsha Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.