Tariffs, trucking the top threats to Top 100 US importers and exporters

Tariffs, trucking the top threats to Top 100 US importers and exporters

In 2018, US importers and exporters will be greeted by the strongest international and domestic demand conditions in at least a half-decade. Still, uncertainty regarding tariffs and a tight US trucking market are obstacles that could dampen what many expect to be an impressive year for global trade.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article indicated that Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017. Although Sears Canada did so, and subsequently liquidated earlier this year, that business was spun off from the group in 2012 and doesn't reflect the Sears Holdings business.

Shippers share two major challenges this year that make the outlook for those on the JOC’s Top 100 Importers and Exporters and smaller beneficial cargo owners more potentially fraught than usual.

For one, they are being forced to plan in the midst of global trade policy uncertainty. And second, they are dealing with highly asymmetrical market conditions between international and domestic transportation modes.

On the trade policy side, the United States’ posture toward tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has created an environment where virtually every importer and exporter has to consider the impact to their business of a possible tit-for-tat trade skirmish. And on the freight side, the exceedingly tight North American surface transportation market is at odds with the relatively slack ocean freight market.

Both dynamics are always in the background for logistics practitioners, but the degree to which they are heightened this year isn’t so typical and is a source of pronounced consternation for international shippers.

Yet while uncertainty lingers, it hasn’t had a major impact on trade volumes; in fact, it may be stirring some unexpected early containerized growth.

“The threat to impose up to $150 billion in US import tariffs on Chinese exports still stands [as does China’s threatened retaliation in kind] but those tariffs are still pending,” Analyst Paul Bingham wrote in Hackett Associates’ Global Port Tracker report this month. “Somewhat ironically, overall commodity trade volumes, including US imports, have increased, likely as a response to trade threats. Market psychology regarding potential, future, additional tariffs has affected trade behavior quickly, not surprisingly. Following the US trade policy announcements this year it appears some companies have accelerated shipments.”

Hackett Associates is projecting North American containerized trade volume for 2018 to rise 5.3 percent to 24.7 million TEU. That’s roughly in line with the 4.9 percent growth in containerized trade for 2018 forecast in January by IHS Markit, parent company of JOC.com.

Maritime consultant Drewry recently pegged supply growth in the container shipping industry at 4.2 percent this year.

The US tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China and Chinese retaliation threaten roughly 887,000 TEU, or 6.6 percent of the total US container trade with China and 2.5 percent of total US container volume, according to a JOC analysis of PIERS data, though the ultimate impact of the threatened tariffs remains unclear.

The threats have alarmed global and US economy watchers and raised suspicions that China is trying to squeeze US exporters of waste, pork, and fresh fruits with ramped up container inspections. As of late May, the Trump administation was hinting it would ease sanctions on ZTE, a Chinese telecommuniations company that has drawn the scrutiny of some in the US security community, in exhange for China’s removal of tariffs on US agriculture exports.

Amid the back-and-forth, the major economic forces still look strong. Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit, said global economic growth will likely be sustained between 3 and 3.5 percent over the next couple of years. There’s more tempered growth projected for US GDP, at 2.8 percent for 2018 and 2019.

“The reality is that the business cycles of the world’s major economies are mostly out of phase with one another,” Behravesh wrote in a May 11 global economic outlook note. “Specifically, the cycles in the US, UK, German, and Canadian economies are in a mature phase, whereas the eurozone and Japanese economies are in earlier stages of expansion.”

Smooth oceans, choppy land

Carolyn Glynn, senior manager of international freight and customs compliance at Igloo Products, said her company’s negotiations with its steamship lines and non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) went smoothly this year. Glynn noted that consolidation in the carrier industry has resulted in what she characterized as enhanced customer service.

“I’m not sure this has been everybody’s experience, but we definitely noticed more of an emphasis on customer service,” she said, adding that her carrier has set up a concierge service for the Igloo account.

Glynn intimated that the focus on customer service is likely due to carriers being freed up to focus more on service and less on cost, with fewer participants potentially driving down market rates.

Igloo, which didn’t make the Top 100 list, predominantly ships all-water from six points in Asia through Houston, and generally uses one carrier and one to two NVOCCs.

Perhaps a bigger imminent challenge for shippers than the pending imposition of tariffs is the extreme dichotomy between conditions in the ocean freight market and those in the US trucking market.

“Precious few shippers only have to worry about containers coming into the United States,” said Foster Finley, a managing director and leader of the transportation practice at AlixPartners. “They also have to worry about surface transportation to points of consumption inside the country.”

Finley said the asymmetry of the international and domestic freight market conditions puts a greater onus on shippers to manage modes more in unison.

“More shippers have become more sophisticated and are looking at transportation more holistically,” he said. “The [chief financial officer] and the chief supply chain officer are asking questions — what’s the total cost and what are the factors associated with that? The management of many of these companies is looking at it from a broad perspective. That forces domestic and international to work with each other, because they’re not discrete pieces to be managed separately.”

According to April data from Wolfe Research’s quarterly State of the Freight report, which surveys shippers across a range of verticals, ocean rates are expected to increase 0.3 percent year over year in the next 12 months, down from 3.4 percent a year ago. That’s the lowest pricing expectation since before the August 2016 Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, the report notes.

Meanwhile, the same report found that shippers expect to see a 5.2 percent increase in truckload rates and a 3.4 percent bump in less-than-truckload rates during the next year. Both are the highest expectations in the history of Wolfe’s survey.

An e-commerce future?

This year’s Top 100 Importers list looks largely familiar to those of years past, but the shifting sands beneath the retail sector are taking a toll on some household names on the list.

Toys”R”Us (No. 40) declared bankruptcy as part of an especially vicious retail reckoning in 2017, while Sears (No. 15 on the importers’ list), J.C. Penney (No. 16) and Macy’s (No. 56) are said to be struggling. It’s unclear what prolonged impact Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods means for the rest of the grocery retail sector, but Kroger (No. 73) and even discount retailers such as Walmart (No. 1), Target (No. 2), Family Dollar/Dollar Tree (No. 7), Cosco (No. 14), and Dollar General (No. 48) could be impacted.

The Top 100 Exporters list is, as usual, dominated by commodities shippers, especially in the paper goods, agriculture, food, chemicals, and recyclables industries. Aside from concerns that US tariffs on certain imports might rebound on US exporters, shippers in the wastepaper industry have also grappled with restrictions on their ability to export to China.

And then there’s the looming impact of e-commerce. Most experts contacted by JOC.com have yet to make a material shift in how they procure ocean capacity as it relates to e-commerce orders, but explosive growth in e-commerce sales and direct-to-consumer deliveries could reshape the pattern of import volumes at US ports in the years to come. For now, few companies have distinct e-commerce and traditional sales channel supply chains that stretch beyond fulfillment or final-mile legs.

“Direct-to-consumer is big and high profile mainly because it touches the consumer,” Finley said. “We see all sorts of developments, but at the end of the day, it does not tend to have the impact that business-to-business transactions have.”

Overall consumer confidence, in e-commerce and more generally, is driving growth for imports, said Ben Hackett, principal at Hackett Associates.

“Despite the threats and risks to trade, we continue to see solid expansion, and our models are projecting this to continue throughout the year, although at a slower pace than last year,” he wrote in the latest Global Port Tracker. “The main reason is that the consumer is spending more than his net personal income and is also drawing down on savings.”

Meanwhile, a stronger dollar doesn’t portend well for exports, which grew a nominal 1.2 percent year over year in 2017 to 12.5 million TEU, according to PIERS, a sister company of JOC.com.

Searching for contingency plans

The threat of import tariffs is compelling some shippers to set up contingency plans around transportation networks and sourcing locations, Finley said. One of AlixPartners’ clients, he said, engaged the firm a year ago around a profitable and fast-growing product it was sourcing in Asia.

“They wanted to know, if we are forced to discontinue, we need to know what our alternatives are,” he said. “We went through with them where in the United States could these products be made; we did proformas on landed costs in Asia and the United States. And not surprisingly, it was obnoxiously high. So, it pivoted quickly from contingency plans to getting pretty precise about inflection point.

“Every one of these conversations gets to a tipping point: where is the point where tariffs, or lack thereof, force you in one direction or the other,” Finley said.

AlixPartners stresses seven variables when advising clients on where to source, he said: the cost of local materials, overhead, local labor, transport inbound (country of origin to country of destination), buffer inventory, tariffs, and foreign exchange. “Six of the seven are independent variables where it helps to look at historical patterns, but tariffs are purely capricious,” Finley said. “There’s not much utility in trying to forecast that.”

Glynn agreed. “It’s on our radar, but we’re sitting back and waiting to see because it’s too early to know what will happen,” she said. “We don’t want to focus on the wrong segments to guess what the government wants to do. Pulling the trigger prematurely can cost you. Especially if you’ve made the wrong assumption.”  



JOC Top 100 ImportersTEU in 2017HeadquartersWebsiteSectorNotes
1 Walmart 874,800 Bentonville, Ark. www.walmartstores.com Retail Company changed its name to Walmart, stepping up its grocery and retail business in stores and online.
2 Target 590,300 Minneapolis www.target.com Retail Target has more than 1,800 stores and 39 distribution centers in the United States.
3 Home Depot 388,000 Atlanta www.homedepot.com Retail  
4 Lowe's 287,500 Mooresville, NC www.lowes.com Retail  
5 Dole Food 220,200 Thousand Oaks, Calif. www.dole.com Fruit and vegetables  
6 Samsung America 184,800 Ridgefield Park, NJ www.samsung.com Conglomerate  
7 Family Dollar Stores/Dollar Tree 168,400 Matthews, NC, Chesapeake, Va. www.familydollar.com Retail  
8 LG Group 161,600 Englewood Cliffs, NJ www.lgcorp.com Conglomerate New $3.7 billion science park opened in April in western Seoul, comprising 20 research buildings.
9 Philips Electronics North America 142,900 Andover, Mass. www.usa.philips.com Electronics Company focuses on technology to enrich personal health, diagnosis and treatment, and care and health infomatics.
10 IKEA International 120,500 Conshohocken, Pa. www.ikea.com Retail IKEA has made significant investments in the United States, opening four new stores in 2017 and one new distribution and customer fulfilment center.
11 Chiquita Brands International 117,500 Charlotte, NC www.chiquita.com Fresh fruit and vegetables Chiquita is investing in 2,500 new energy-efficient reefer containers from Maersk Container Industry to improve banana quality and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
12 Nike 116,300 Beaverton, Ore. www.nikebiz.com Footwear and apparel  
13 Newell Brands 115,400 Hoboken, NJ http://www.newellbrands.com Outdoor and home goods Newell Brands is selling The Waddington Group, its global consumer and commercial package manufacturing business, to Novolex Holdings, a provider of paper and plastics packaging products.
14 Costco Wholesale 111,700 Issaquah, Wash. www.cosco.com Retail  
15 Sears Holdings 103,200 Hoffman Estates, Ill. www.searsholdings.com Retail-consumer goods ESL Investments expresses interest in participating as a buyer of Kenmore, SHIP, and PartsDirect if Sears Holdings decides to divest all or a portion of those assets.
16 J.C. Penney 101,100 Plano, Texas www.jcpenney.net Retail J.C. Penney added toy shops in all of its brick-and-mortar stories and entered into a partnership with LEGO.
17 General Electric 92,300 Fairfield, Conn. www.ge,com Conglomerate GE Healthcare is launching a ready-to-run factory-in-a-box to speed up production of viral vector-based therapeutics, such as vaccines, oncolytic viruses, and gene and cell therapies.
18 Ashley Furniture Industries 85,700 Arcadia, Wis. www.ashleyfurniture.com Furniture  
19 Whirlpool 74,700 Benton Harbor, Mich. www.whirlpool.com Appliances Whirlpool has agreed to sell its Embraco compressor business in Brazil to Nidec Corp., a motor manufacturer in Japan with 300 subsidiaries.
20 Heineken USA 73,100 White Plains, NY www.heinekeninternational.com Beverages Brands include Heineken Lager, Heineken Light, Amstel Light, Newcastle Brown Ale, and Strongbow Hard Cider. The company also imports Dos Equis, Tecate, Indio, Carta Blanca, and Bohema brands from Mexico.
21 Williams-Sonoma 70,400 San Francisco, Calif. www.williams-sonomainc.com Retail  
22 Red Bull North America 63,700 Santa Monica, Calif. www.redbull.com Beverages More than 6.3 billion cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide in 2017, up 4 percent from 2016.
23 Gap Stores 61,800 San Francisco, Calif. www.gap.com Retail Old Navy to open more than 60 stores this year.
24 LKQ 61,100 Chicago, Ill. www.lkqcorp.com Auto parts Acquired Warn Industries in November.
25 Rooms to Go 59,000 Seffner, Fla. www.roomstogo.com Retail furniture  
26 Pier 1 Imports 55,000 Fort Worth, Texas www.pier1.com Retail Pier 1 Imports plans to close up to 25 stores in the next two years.
27 Kohl's 51,700 Menomonee, Wis. www.kohls.com Retail Partnered with Amazon in 2017 to accept Amazon returns and host Amazon kiosks.
28 Staples 50,400 Framingham, Mass. www.staples.com Retail Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm based in New York, acquired Staples in September 2017.
29 Michaels Stores 49,600 Irving, Texas www.michaels.com Retail  
30 Dorel Industries 49,500 Montreal, Canada www.dorel.com Furniture/bicycles  
31 Fresh Del Monte Produce 49,200 Coral Gables, Fla. www.delmonte.com Foods  
32 Hankook Tire America 48,700 Wayne, NJ www.hankooktireusa.com Tires Opened new production plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, in October 2017.
33 Toyota Tsusho America 48,200 Georgetown, Ky. www.taiamerica.com Conglomerate Discussing liquefied natural gas (LNG) marine fuel bunkering in Japan with "K" Line and NYK Line.
34 Anheuser Busch InBev 47,200 St. Louis, Mo. www.ab-inbev.com Beverages Merged Russia and Ukraine business with Turkey's Anadolu Efes.
35 Mercedes Benz USA/Daimler Trucks 46,900 Atlanta, Portland www.mbusa.com www.daimler.com Automotive goods Established an apprenticeship program through US Department of Labor and US Department of Veterans Affairs in August.
35 VF Corp. 46,900 Greensboro, NC www.vfc.com Apparel and footwear VF acquired Williamson-Dickie Mfg, which includes brands Dickies, Workrite, Kodiak, Terra and Walls. It also acquired Icebreaker, which features Merino wool in its clothing and accessories, a complement to VF's Smartwool brand.
37 Sony Corp. of America 44,600 New York www.sony.com Electronics  
38 Nestle US/Nestle Waters 44,500 Glendale, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Greenwich, Conn. www.nestle.com Food/beverages/pet food Broke ground on new production facilities in Cuba and Russia.
39 Hewlett-Packard 44,000 Palo Alto, Calif. www.hp.com Computer technology Committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions another 25 percent.
40 TJX 43,500 Framingham, Mass. www.tjx.com Retail  
41 Toys 'R' Us 42,300 Wayne, NJ www.toysrusinc.com Toys-Retail Entered bankruptcy in September.
42 Michelin North America 41,300 Greenville, SC www.michelin.com Mfg-tire and rubber  
43 MS International 39,700 Orange, Calif. www.msistone.com Countertops and flooring Opened showrooms in Cleveland, Ohio, and San Diego, California, in 2017.
44 BMW of North America 38,200 Woodcliff Lake, NJ Spartansburg, SC bmwusa.com www.bmwusfactory.com bmwgroup.com Automotive goods BMW teamed with Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen Group to build network for electric vehicle charging in Europe.
45 Southern Wines & Spirits of America 37,700 Miami, Fla. www.southernwine.com Beverages  
46 Arauco Wood Products 37,200 Atlanta, Georgia www.arauco.cl Forest products Began operations in Europe and South Africa.
47 Canon USA 36,500 Melville, NY www.canon.com Photo imaging  
48 Big Lots 35,900 Columbus, Ohio www.biglotscorporate.com Closeout retail Opened new stores in Grandview, Ohio, and Mesa, Arizona.
49 Dollar General 35,600 Goodlettsville, Tenn. www.dollargeneral.com Retail  
50 SOL Group Marketing 35,200 Pompano Beach, Fla. www.solgroup-marketing.com Fruit  
51 Panasonic Corp of North America 34,900 Newark, NJ www.panasonic.com Electronics Acquired deep learning company Arimo in October.
52 Continental Tire 34,600 Fort Mill, SC www.continentaltire.com Tires  
53 Electrolux 34,200 Charlotte, NC; Stockholm www.electrolux.com Appliances Launched three new lines of dishwashers.
54 Bed Bath & Beyond 33,500 Union, NJ www.bedbathandbeyond.com Retail Accelerated reorganization of store management structure.
55 Best Buy 33,000 Richfield, Minn. www.bestbuy.com Retail Pledged to reduce carbon emissions 60 percent by 2020.
56 Sumitomo 32,000 New York www.sumitomocorp.co.jp/english/ Conglomerate Began work to convey information using virtual reality methods.
57 Macy's 31,300 Cincinnati, Ohio www.federated-fds.com Retail Expanded same-day delivery to 33 markets.
58 Hanes Brands 30,700 Winston-Salem, NC www.hanesbrands.com Apparel  
59 Bob's Discount Furniture 29,700 Manchester, Conn. www.mybobs.com Furniture retailer Opened new headquarters building in October.
60 Coaster of America 29,400 Santa Fe Springs, Calif. www.coastercompany.com Furniture  
61 Hasbro 28,300 Pawtucket, RI www.hasbro.com Toys Launched gaming subscription service that sends games to customers' homes.
62 Ross Stores 27,900 Pleasanton, Calif. www.rossstores.com Retail Opened 96 new stores in 2017.
63 Mobis Parts America 27,800 West Point, Ga.; Mongomery, Ala. www.mobisalabama.com Auto parts  
64 Adidas Group 27,700 Portland, Ore. www.adidas-group.com Footwear and apparel  
65 Hyundai Motor Manufacturing 27,600 Montgomery, Ala. www.hmmausa.com Motor Vehicles Manufactured 5 millionth engine in March 2017.
66 Gildan Activewear 27,500 Montreal, Canada www.gildan.com Apparel mfg. Acquired American Apparel for $88 million in January 2017.
67 Kubota Tractor 27,300 Torrence, Calif. www.kubota.com Tractors and agri tools Announced plans to create $87-million logistcs hub in Edgerton, Kansas.
68 Caterpillar 26,500 Peoria, Ill. www.caterpillar.com Mfg-machinery Established a global headquarters in Chicago.
69 Goodyear Rubber & Tire 26,400 Akron, Ohio corporate.goodyear.com Tires Goodyear and Bridgestone are forming one of the largest US tire distribution joint ventures (JVs). With the scale to reach the vast majority of US retailers daily, TireHub will provide a comprehensive range of passenger and light truck tires.
70 Mattel 26,000 El Segundo, Calif. www.mattel.com Toys Opened an East Coast distribution center in Jonestown, Pennsylvania in July.
71 Itochu International 25,900 New York www.itochu.com Diversified Recieved "A" financial rating from Moody's for first time in 20 years.
72 Kroger 25,400 Cincinnati, Ohio ir.kroger.com Retail Merged with Murray's Cheese.
73 Heritage Home Group 23,600 High Point, NC www.heritagehome.com Furniture  
74 Bridgestone Americas 23,400 Nashville, Tenn. www.bridgestoneamericas.com Tires, auto products Bridgestone and Goodyear are forming one of the largest US tire distribution JVs. With the scale to reach the vast majority of US retailers daily, TireHub will provide a comprehensive range of passenger and light truck tires.
74 Haier America Trading 23,400 Wayne, NJ www.haierappliances.com Appliances GE Appliances, a division of Haier America Trading, has expanded production at its Monogram Refrigeration plant in Selmer, Tennessee.
76 Skechers USA 21,900 Manhattan Beach, Calif. www.skechers.com Apparel and footwear  
76 Hon Hai Precision Industries 21,900 Houston www.foxconn.com Electronics  
78 Berkshire Hathaway 21,700 Throughout United States www.berkshirehathaway.com Diversified Made minority investment in Pilot Flying J.
79 Shark Ninja 21,500 Newton, Mass. www.sharkninja.com Appliances  
80 L Brands 21,200 Columbus, Ohio www.lb.com Retail Brands include Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, PINK, La Senza, and Henri Bendel.
81 PVH 21,000 New York www.pvh.com Apparel PVH operates businesses in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, maximizing the potential of its Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Heritage Brands.
82 Joann Fabric and Craft Stores 20,900 Hudson, Ohio www.joann.com Retail  
83 Bissell Homecare 20,800 Grand Rapids, Mich. www.bissell.com Household Global supplier of vacuums, sweepers, carpet-cleaning machines, and cleaning formulas.
84 Marubeni America 20,600 New York www.marubeni-usa.com Conglomerate Marubeni trades in commodities, agricultural goods, machinery, energy products, and natural resources.
85 Conair 20,500 East Windsor, NJ www.conair.com Appliances and personal care Conair sells professional salon products, personal care products, consumer and commercial kitchen appliances, and cookware under more than 25 brand names throughout the world.
85 Walgreens Boots Alliance 20,500 Deerfield, Ill. www.walgreensbootsalliance.com Retail  
87 Fonterra USA 20,400 Rosemont, Ill. www.fonterra.com Dairy products Fronterra is testing delivery of Anchor products from New Zealand to China using blockchain technology to improve supply chain traceability and transparency.
88 Yokohama Tire 20,200 Fullerton, Calif. www.yokohamatire.com Tires  
89 First Solar 20,000 Tempe, Ariz. www.firstsolar.com Solar First Solar plans to build a new solar module manufacturing facility near its existing Perrysburg, Ohio, plant. The company also has production facilities in Malaysia and Vietnam.
90 American Honda Motor, Honda North America 19,900 Torrance, Calif. Marysville, Ohio honda.com americas.hondatrading.com hondainamerica.com Automotive goods  
91 DuPont 19,200 Wilmington, Del. www.dupont.com Diversified DuPont and Archer Daniels Midland opened the world's first biobased furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) pilot production facility in Illinois. FDME is derived from fructose and can be used to create plastics.
91 CVS Health 19,200 Woonsocket, RI www.cvs.com Retail  
93 Samsonite 19,000 Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong www.samsonite.com Luggage Samsonite is opening new stores in China and Hong Kong this year.
94 Tractor Supply 18,800 Brentwood, Tenn. www.tractorsupply.com Retail Tractor Supply offers products for the home, land, pets, and animals, with stores in 49 states.
95 Raymour & Flanigan Furniture 18,600 Liverpool, NY www.raymourflanigan.com Retail  
96 Nissan North America/Nissan Trading 18,500 Franklin, Tenn.; Farmington Hills, Mich. www.nissanusa.com Automobiles Nissan operates these manufacturing facilities in the United States — in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee, and Canton, Mississippi.
97 Giti Tire USA 17,900 Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. www.giti.com Tires Giti Tire began production at its $560-million Richburg, South Carolina, factory in October 2017, with initial production focused on Dextero-brand tires for Walmart.
98 E&E 17,500 Fremont, Calif. www.ee1994.com Furniture E&E does business as JLA Home, designing, making, and supplying home furnishings.
99 Euromarket Designs 17,300 Northbrook, Ill. www.crateandbarrel.com Retail Euromarket Designs operates as Crate and Barrel, specializing in sales of housewares, furniture, and home accessories.
100 Under Armour 17,200 Balitmore, Md. www.underarmous.com/en-us Apparel Created global innovation hub for footwear design in Portland, Oregon.


JOC Top 100 EXportersTEU in 2017HeadquartersWebsiteSectorNotes
1 America Chung Nam 284,500 City of Industry, Calif. www.acni.net Paper and plastics recyclables ACN is the largest exporter of recovered paper in the United States and a leading exporter in Europe and Asia. China's waste import ban to impact export volume.
2 International Paper 248,400 Memphis, Tenn. www.ipaper.com Paper/packaging International Paper's Foodservice Business and Coated Paperboard divisions became part of Graphic Packaging International effective Jan. 1, 2018.
3 Ralison International 130,100 Diamond Bar, Calif. www.ralison.net Paper/recyclables  
4 Koch Industries 120,800 Wichita, Kan. www.kochind.com Conglomerate Koch Industries is investing in Mesosphere, a cloud computing startup, which plans to develop new projects with Koch.
5 International Forest Products 109,400 Foxboro, Mass. www.ifpcorp.com Packaging/paper products/pulp/forest products/recyclables  
6 DeLong 106,600 Clinton, Wis. www.delongcompany.com Animal feed/grain  
7 WM Recycle America 75,300 Houston, Texas www.ecare.recycleamerica.com Diversified/recyclables WM Recycle America operates nearly 100 plants in the United States and Canada.
8 Shintech 73,800 Houston, Texas www.shintechinc.com Chemicals Shintech is the largest producer of polyvinyl chloride in the United States.
9 Louis Dreyfus Commodities 68,200 Cordova, Tenn. www.ldcom.com Cotton/diversified  
10 WestRock 66,300 Norcross, Ga. www.westrock.com Paper/packaging WestRock and KapStone signed a merger agreement in January that is subject to approval by US regulators. The deal would combine two of the top 5 US paper and packaging companies.
11 JBS USA 65,400 Greeley, Colo. www.jbssa.com Refrigerated meats/poultry JBS offers global customers chicken, beef, and pork products under brand names such as Pilgrim's, Swift, Blue Ribbon, and La Herenica.
12 ExxonMobil Chemical 63,400 Spring, Texas www.exxonmobilchemical.com Chemicals ExxonMobil is investing in new US facilities to expand chemical manufacturing capacity in North America and Asia Pacific, to meet increasing demand in Asia and other growing markets.
13 Newport CH International 62,100 Orange, Calif. www.newportchintl.com Paper/metals/plastics recyclables A direct export shipper for the paper and plastics recycling industry, shipping to mills in many Asian countries.
14 BMW of North America 61,600 Woodcliff Lake, NJ; Spartansburg, SC www.bmw.usa.com Automotive goods  
15 Cargill 57,500 Wayzata, Minn. www.cargill.com Conglomerate  
16 JC Horizon 55,600 Ontario, Calif. www.jchorizonltd.com Paper/metals/plastics recyclables JC Horizon's export markets include China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand.
17 Eastman Chemical 53,800 Kingsport, Tenn. www.eastman.com Chemicals/fibers/plastics Tenite cellulosics from Eastman is being used by a new toy company, Kando Concepts, in its first collection of Animal Word Puzzles.
18 Potential Industries 51,600 Wilmington, Calif. www.potentialindustries.com Paper/recyclables  
19 Domtar 48,100 Fort Mill, SC; Montreal, Canada www.domtar.com Paper/forest products A producer of market pulp used to make paper, tissue, towels, diapers, and personal hygiene items.
20 Sims Metal Management 47,700 New York www.simsmm.com Metals and electronics/recyclables Operations encompass buying, processing, and selling ferrous and non-ferrous recylcled metals.
20 Cycle Link USA 47,700 Diamond Bar, Calif. www.cyclelink.com Paper/recyclables Cycle Link parent company ShanYing International sees China's new waste regulations as a big challenge for recyclers.
22 Walmart 47,600 Bentonville, Ark. www.walmartstores.com Retail Company changed its name to Walmart in February, stepping up its grocery and retail business in stores and online.
23 Scoular 46,200 Omaha, Neb. www.scoular.com Food/grain/feed A global provider of supply chain solutions for end-users and suppliers of grain, feed, and food ingredients.
24 Weyerhaeuser 45,600 Federal Way, Wash. www.weyerhaeuser.com Forest/wood products  
25 Defense Logistics Agency/Military Surface Deployment & Distribution Command 43,900 Fort Belvoir, Va. Scott Air Force Base, Ill. www.dla.mil
Military goods  
26 BASF North America 42,400 Florham Park, NJ www.basf.us Chemicals-diversified  
27 Archer Daniels Midland 41,500 Chicago, Ill. www.adm.com Agriculture Sold Bolivian oilseeds operations.
28 Cedarwood-Young (Allan Co.) 41,300 Baldwin Park, Calif. www.allancompany.com Paper/recyclables  
29 Tyson Foods 40,400 Springdale, Ark. www.tysonfoods.com Refrigerated meats/poultry Acquired AdvancePierre Foods for $4.2 billion including debt.
30 Lansing Trade Group 40,200 Overland Park, Kan. www.lansingtradegroup.com Animal feed and grain Acquired agricultural trading business of Interstate Commodities Inc.
31 Olam International 39,600 Fresno, Calif. www.olamgroup.com Cotton/spices and vegetables Expanded biscuit production facility in Tema, Ghana.
32 Rayonier Advanced Materials 37,900 Jacksonville, Fla. www.rayonieram.com Chemicals/forest products  
33 DuPont 37,600 Wilmington, Del. www.dupont.com Diversified DuPont and Archer Daniels Midland opened the world's first biobased FDME pilot production facility in Illinois. FDME is derived from fructose and can be used to create plastics.
34 Caterpillar 36,900 Peoria, Ill. www.caterpillar.com Mfg-machinery Established a global headquarters in Chicago.
35 Al Dahra ACX Global 35,700 Bakersfield Calif. www.acxpacific.com Animal feed/grain  
36 OGO Fibers 35,500 Richmond Hill, Ontario; Summerville, SC www.ogofibers.com Paper/recyclables  
37 PriceSmart 35,000 San Diego www.pricesmart.com Membership warehouse club Opened two new sites in Costa Rica.
38 Smithfield Foods 34,500 Smithfield, Va. www.smithfieldfoods.com Food/refrigerated Completed acquisition of Clougherty Packing.
39 Ravago Group 33,100 Orlando, Fla. www.ravago.com Plastics, rubber, and chemicals Acquired Polymer Technology and Services.
40 Anderson Hay & Grain 31,900 Ellensburg, Wash. www.anderson-hay.com Animal feed Established JV with Agthia Group to distribute in Middle East.
40 Army & Air Force Exchange Service 31,900 Dallas www.shopmyexchange.com Retail  
42 Dole Food 31,200 Thousand Oaks, Calif. www.dole.com Fruit and vegetables  
43 Mercedes Benz USA 31,100 Atlanta www.mbusa.com www.daimler.com Automotive goods Established an apprenticeship program through US Department of Labor and US Department of Veterans Affairs in August 2017.
44 Gavilon 30,800 Omaha, Ne. www.gavilon.com Animal feed/grain  
45 AJC International 30,500 Atlanta www.ajcfood.com Food/refrigerated  
46 CHS 29,900 Inver Grove Heights, MN www.chsinc.com Agriculture/energy/food  
47 Gildan Activewear 29,400 Montreal, Canada www.gildan.com Apparel Mfg. Acquired American Apparel for $88 million in January 2017.
48 Procter & Gamble 29,200 Cincinnati, Ohio www.pg.com Mfg-consumer products  
49 Rio Tinto Minerals 28,500 Greenwood Village, Colo. www.riotinto.com Minerals  
50 Green Plains Trade 25,500 Omaha, Ne. www.gpreinc.com Animal feed  
51 Ascend Performance Materials 25,300 Houston, Texas www.ascendmaterials.com Chemicals/fibers/plastics  
52 Dow Chemical 25,000 Midland, Mich. www.dow.com Diversified Introduced new product line for 3D printing.
53 Berkshire Hathaway Companies 23,600 Throughout United States www.berkshirehathaway.com Diversified Made minority investment in Pilot Flying J.
54 John Deere 22,700 Moline, Ill. www.deere.com Mfg-equipment Introduced new compact wheel loaders.
55 Chemours 22,500 Wilmington, Del. www.chemours.com Chemicals Broke ground on new facility to manufacture chemicals used in mining.
56 Graphic Packaging Holding 22,300 Atlanta,Ga. www.graphicpkg.com Paper prodcuts Acquired International Paper's Foodservice and Coated Paperboard divisions effective Jan. 1, 2018.
57 Interstate Commodities 22,000 Troy, NY www.icigrain.com Animal feed/grain  
58 Genesis Resource Enterprises 21,600 Springfield, NJ www.egreen4u.com Paper/recyclables  
58 American Honda Motor, Honda Trading America 21,600 Torrance, Calif.; Marysville, Ohio honda.com americas.hondatrading.com hondainamerica.com Automotive goods  
60 Prairie Creek Grain 21,400 Elwood, Ill. www.pcgrain.com Grain/animal feed  


Perdue 20,900 Salisburgy, Md. www.perdue.com Food  
62 Fornazor International 20,500 Hillsdale, NJ www.fornazor.com Animal feed  
63 3M 20,300 St. Paul, Minn. www.3m.com Diversified  
64 Michelin North America 19,900 Greenville, SC www.michelin.com Mfg-tire and rubber  
64 Ford Motor 19,900 Dearborn, Mich. www.ford.com Mfg-automobiles Signed deal with Alibaba to reimagine vehicle ownership.
66 Nestle 19,700 Glendale, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Greenwich, Conn. www.nestle.com Food/beverages/pet food Broke ground on new production facilities in Cuba and Russia.
67 Active Minerals International 19,500 Sparks, Md. www.activeminerals.com Minerals  
68 Ekman Group 18,800 Gothenburg, Miami, Hong Kong www.ekman-co.se Paper/recyclables  
69 Toyota Tsusho America 18,700 New York, Georgetown, Ky. www.taiamerica.com Automotive goods Discussing LNG marine fuel bunkering in Japan with "K" Line and NYK Line.
70 Baillie Lumber 18,600 Hamburg, NY www.baillie.com Forest/wood products  
71 Jordan Trading 18,000 Kingston, NY https://bit.ly/2rJU0QS Paper/recyclables  
72 Anheuser Busch InBev 17,800 St. Louis, Mo. www.anheuser-busch.com Beverages Merged Russia and Ukraine business with Turkey's Anadolu Efes.
73 Sino Paper 17,200 Anaheim, Calif. www.sino-paper.com Paper/recyclables  
74 Mills Brothers International 16,800 Seattle, Wash. www.millsbros.com Food/grain/feed  
75 KaMin 16,400 Macon, Ga. www.kaminllc.com Minerals-clay Opening new office in São Paulo.
76 Mega Fiber 16,300 Brea, Calif.   Paper/recyclables  
77 Mitsui & Co. 16,100 New York www.mitsui.com Conglomerate  
77 KapStone Paper and Packaging 16,100 Northbrook, Ill. www.kapstonepaper.com Paper/paper products WestRock and KapStone signed a merger agreement in January that is subject to approval by US regulators. The deal would combine two of the top 5 US paper and packaging companies.
79 G.A. Paper Intl. 15,900 Tampa, Fla.; Markham, Canada www.gapaper.com Paper/recyclables  
79 Parkdale Mills 15,900 Gastonia, NC www.parkdalemills.com Spun yarns  
81 Vinmar International 15,400 Houston, Texas www.vinmar.com Chemicals/plastics  
82 Alco Iron and Metal 15,300 San Leandro, Calif. www.alcometals.com Metal/recyclables  
83 Imerys 14,900 Roswell, Ga. www.imerys.com Minerals  
84 Perez Trading 14,800 Miami, Fla. www.pereztrading.com Paper/packaging Perez Trading is a world source for paper, packaging board, and technology for the graphic arts industry.
84 Advanced Steel Recovery 14,800 Fontana, Calif. www.advancedsteel.com Metal/recyclables  
86 Defense Commissary Agency 14,700 Fort Lee, VA www.commissaries.com Groceries/household items  
87 Central National Gottesman 14,500 Purchase, NY www.cng-inc.com Paper products/pulp/forest products The Central National Division sells, markets, and moves paper products and metal to more than 100 global countries.
88 Sears Holdings 14,200 Hoffman Estates, Ill. www.searsholdings.com Retail-consumer goods Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard.
89 CellMark Group 14,000 Norwalk and Stamford, Conn.; Pearl River, NY; San Rafael, Calif. www.cellmark.com Diversified  
90 David J. Joseph 13,900 Cincinnati, Ohio www.djj.com Metal/recyclables DJJ does business with scrap and scrap substitute suppliers and consumers in South America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
91 Sappi Cloquet 13,700 Cloquet, Minn. www.sappi.com Paper/pulp/paper products Sappi focuses on providing dissolving wood pulp, specialties and packing papers, graphic and printer papers, and biomaterials and biochemicals to customers in more than 150 countries.
92 Zen Trading 13,600 San Francisco, Calif.   Animal feed/grain  
92 Enerfo 13,600 Omaha, Ne. www.enerfogroup.com Grain  
94 Resolute Forest Products 13,400 Montreal, Canada www.resolutefp.com Paper/pulp/wood products Company owns and operates 40 manufacturing facilities in the United States and Canada.
94 National Beef 13,400 Kansas City, Mo. www.nationalbeef.com Beef National Beef owners entered into an agreement with NBM US Holdings, an indirect subsidiary of Marfrig Global Foods, in April, under which NBM would acquire 51 percent of ownership of National Beef. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
96 Staple Cotton Cooperative Association 13,300 Greenwood, Miss. www.staplcotn.com Cotton Staplcotn is a 100 percent producer-owned company. Producers globally sell their crops as one company.
97 Evonik 13,200 Parsippany, NJ www.evonik.com Chemicals Company is nearly doubling its capacity for the specialty moulding compounds produced in Arkansas.
98 Border Valley Trading 13,100 Brawley, Calif. www.bordervalley.net Animal feed/grain BVT exports alfalfa and grass hay/straw to markets in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, among other locations.
98 Sonoco Products 13,100 Hartsville, SC www.sonoco.com Packaging Sonoco acquired Highland Packaging Solutions, a manufacturer of thermoformed packaging for fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs, in April.
100 Resource Management Cos. Intl. 13,000 City of Industry, Calif. www.rmcrecycle.com/ Paper/recyclables RMC International division handles the export of materials generated from material recovery facilities and recycling companies for export to Asia.


Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.

Rankings compiled by Dustin Braden. Contact Dustin Braden at dustin.braden@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @dustin_joc.

About the rankings: The Journal of Commerce’s annual Top 100 US Importers and Exporters rankings begin with data from PIERS, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit, and are enhanced by information gathered from other industry sources.

The figures are expressed in TEU, the most common measurement of containerized ocean shipping. One standard FEU equals two TEU.

These lists are restricted to shippers — beneficial owners of containerized cargo that entered or exited US ports by ocean vessel during 2017. The statistics do not include shipper associations, carriers, non-vessel-operating common carriers, forwarders or brokers, third-party logistics providers, or “to-order” negotiable bills of lading, or data falling under privacy strictures. International import and export cargoes into and out of the US via air, rail, or truck are not included.

In tandem with last year’s ranking and considerable industry research, the list also identifies corporate subsidiaries and strives to reflect any changes in corporate status related to mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs, formal name changes, or bankruptcy filings. We also identify the location of corporate headquarters and, if the global headquarters is outside the US, the parent company. We indicate a website if one is available as well as the industry sector.

These rankings represent our best approximation of the total international oceanborne shipments by these companies and their subsidiaries. We welcome your feedback.



The top 100 Exporter list completely excludes Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM). Our records indicate we shipped 37,930 TEU, which would put us at #32. This should be corrected and the list republished.