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
1Walmart874,800Bentonville, Ark.www.walmartstores.comRetailCompany changed its name to Walmart, stepping up its grocery and retail business in stores and online.
2Target590,300Minneapoliswww.target.comRetailTarget has more than 1,800 stores and 39 distribution centers in the United States.
3Home Depot388,000Atlantawww.homedepot.comRetail 
4Lowe's287,500Mooresville, NCwww.lowes.comRetail 
5Dole Food220,200Thousand Oaks, Calif.www.dole.comFruit and vegetables 
6Samsung America184,800Ridgefield Park, NJwww.samsung.comConglomerate 
7Family Dollar Stores/Dollar Tree168,400Matthews, NC, Chesapeake, Va.www.familydollar.comRetail 
8LG Group161,600Englewood Cliffs, NJwww.lgcorp.comConglomerateNew $3.7 billion science park opened in April in western Seoul, comprising 20 research buildings.
9Philips Electronics North America142,900Andover, Mass.www.usa.philips.comElectronicsCompany focuses on technology to enrich personal health, diagnosis and treatment, and care and health infomatics.
10IKEA International120,500Conshohocken, Pa.www.ikea.comRetailIKEA has made significant investments in the United States, opening four new stores in 2017 and one new distribution and customer fulfilment center.
11Chiquita Brands International117,500Charlotte, NCwww.chiquita.comFresh fruit and vegetablesChiquita is investing in 2,500 new energy-efficient reefer containers from Maersk Container Industry to improve banana quality and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
12Nike116,300Beaverton, Ore.www.nikebiz.comFootwear and apparel 
13Newell Brands115,400Hoboken, NJhttp://www.newellbrands.comOutdoor and home goodsNewell 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.
14Costco Wholesale111,700Issaquah, Wash.www.cosco.comRetail 
15Sears Holdings103,200Hoffman Estates, Ill.www.searsholdings.comRetail-consumer goodsESL 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.
16J.C. Penney101,100Plano, Texaswww.jcpenney.netRetailJ.C. Penney added toy shops in all of its brick-and-mortar stories and entered into a partnership with LEGO.
17General Electric92,300Fairfield, Conn.www.ge,comConglomerateGE 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.
18Ashley Furniture Industries85,700Arcadia, Wis.www.ashleyfurniture.comFurniture 
19Whirlpool74,700Benton Harbor, Mich.www.whirlpool.comAppliancesWhirlpool has agreed to sell its Embraco compressor business in Brazil to Nidec Corp., a motor manufacturer in Japan with 300 subsidiaries.
20Heineken USA73,100White Plains, NYwww.heinekeninternational.comBeveragesBrands 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.
21Williams-Sonoma70,400San Francisco, Calif.www.williams-sonomainc.comRetail 
22Red Bull North America63,700Santa Monica, Calif.www.redbull.comBeveragesMore than 6.3 billion cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide in 2017, up 4 percent from 2016.
23Gap Stores61,800San Francisco, Calif.www.gap.comRetailOld Navy to open more than 60 stores this year.
24LKQ61,100Chicago, Ill.www.lkqcorp.comAuto partsAcquired Warn Industries in November.
25Rooms to Go 59,000Seffner, Fla.www.roomstogo.comRetail furniture 
26Pier 1 Imports55,000Fort Worth, Texaswww.pier1.comRetailPier 1 Imports plans to close up to 25 stores in the next two years.
27Kohl's51,700Menomonee, Wis.www.kohls.comRetailPartnered with Amazon in 2017 to accept Amazon returns and host Amazon kiosks.
28Staples50,400Framingham, Mass.www.staples.comRetailSycamore Partners, a private equity firm based in New York, acquired Staples in September 2017.
29Michaels Stores49,600Irving, Texaswww.michaels.comRetail 
30Dorel Industries49,500Montreal, Canadawww.dorel.comFurniture/bicycles 
31Fresh Del Monte Produce49,200Coral Gables, Fla.www.delmonte.comFoods 
32Hankook Tire America48,700Wayne, NJwww.hankooktireusa.comTiresOpened new production plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, in October 2017.
33Toyota Tsusho America48,200Georgetown, Ky.www.taiamerica.comConglomerateDiscussing liquefied natural gas (LNG) marine fuel bunkering in Japan with "K" Line and NYK Line.
34Anheuser Busch InBev47,200St. Louis, Mo.www.ab-inbev.comBeveragesMerged Russia and Ukraine business with Turkey's Anadolu Efes.
35Mercedes Benz USA/Daimler Trucks46,900Atlanta, Portlandwww.mbusa.com www.daimler.comAutomotive goodsEstablished an apprenticeship program through US Department of Labor and US Department of Veterans Affairs in August.
35VF Corp.46,900Greensboro, NCwww.vfc.comApparel and footwearVF 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.
37Sony Corp. of America44,600New Yorkwww.sony.comElectronics 
38Nestle US/Nestle Waters44,500Glendale, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Greenwich, Conn.www.nestle.comFood/beverages/pet foodBroke ground on new production facilities in Cuba and Russia.
39Hewlett-Packard44,000Palo Alto, Calif.www.hp.comComputer technologyCommitted to reducing greenhouse gas emissions another 25 percent.
40TJX43,500Framingham, Mass.www.tjx.comRetail 
41Toys 'R' Us42,300Wayne, NJwww.toysrusinc.comToys-RetailEntered bankruptcy in September.
42Michelin North America41,300Greenville, SCwww.michelin.comMfg-tire and rubber 
43MS International39,700Orange, Calif.www.msistone.comCountertops and flooringOpened showrooms in Cleveland, Ohio, and San Diego, California, in 2017.
44BMW of North America38,200Woodcliff Lake, NJ Spartansburg, SCbmwusa.com www.bmwusfactory.com bmwgroup.comAutomotive goodsBMW teamed with Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen Group to build network for electric vehicle charging in Europe.
45Southern Wines & Spirits of America37,700Miami, Fla.www.southernwine.comBeverages 
46Arauco Wood Products37,200Atlanta, Georgiawww.arauco.clForest productsBegan operations in Europe and South Africa.
47Canon USA36,500Melville, NYwww.canon.comPhoto imaging 
48Big Lots35,900Columbus, Ohiowww.biglotscorporate.comCloseout retailOpened new stores in Grandview, Ohio, and Mesa, Arizona.
49Dollar General35,600Goodlettsville, Tenn.www.dollargeneral.comRetail 
50SOL Group Marketing35,200Pompano Beach, Fla.www.solgroup-marketing.comFruit 
51Panasonic Corp of North America34,900Newark, NJwww.panasonic.comElectronicsAcquired deep learning company Arimo in October.
52Continental Tire34,600Fort Mill, SCwww.continentaltire.comTires 
53Electrolux34,200Charlotte, NC; Stockholmwww.electrolux.comAppliancesLaunched three new lines of dishwashers.
54Bed Bath & Beyond33,500Union, NJwww.bedbathandbeyond.comRetailAccelerated reorganization of store management structure.
55Best Buy33,000Richfield, Minn.www.bestbuy.comRetailPledged to reduce carbon emissions 60 percent by 2020.
56Sumitomo32,000New Yorkwww.sumitomocorp.co.jp/english/ConglomerateBegan work to convey information using virtual reality methods.
57Macy's31,300Cincinnati, Ohiowww.federated-fds.comRetailExpanded same-day delivery to 33 markets.
58Hanes Brands30,700Winston-Salem, NCwww.hanesbrands.comApparel 
59Bob's Discount Furniture29,700Manchester, Conn.www.mybobs.comFurniture retailerOpened new headquarters building in October.
60Coaster of America29,400Santa Fe Springs, Calif.www.coastercompany.comFurniture 
61Hasbro28,300Pawtucket, RIwww.hasbro.comToysLaunched gaming subscription service that sends games to customers' homes.
62Ross Stores27,900Pleasanton, Calif.www.rossstores.comRetailOpened 96 new stores in 2017.
63Mobis Parts America27,800West Point, Ga.; Mongomery, Ala.www.mobisalabama.comAuto parts 
64Adidas Group27,700Portland, Ore.www.adidas-group.comFootwear and apparel 
65Hyundai Motor Manufacturing27,600Montgomery, Ala.www.hmmausa.comMotor VehiclesManufactured 5 millionth engine in March 2017.
66Gildan Activewear27,500Montreal, Canadawww.gildan.comApparel mfg.Acquired American Apparel for $88 million in January 2017.
67Kubota Tractor27,300Torrence, Calif.www.kubota.comTractors and agri toolsAnnounced plans to create $87-million logistcs hub in Edgerton, Kansas.
68Caterpillar26,500Peoria, Ill.www.caterpillar.comMfg-machineryEstablished a global headquarters in Chicago.
69Goodyear Rubber & Tire26,400Akron, Ohiocorporate.goodyear.comTiresGoodyear 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.
70Mattel26,000El Segundo, Calif.www.mattel.comToysOpened an East Coast distribution center in Jonestown, Pennsylvania in July.
71Itochu International25,900New Yorkwww.itochu.comDiversifiedRecieved "A" financial rating from Moody's for first time in 20 years.
72Kroger25,400Cincinnati, Ohioir.kroger.comRetailMerged with Murray's Cheese.
73Heritage Home Group23,600High Point, NCwww.heritagehome.comFurniture 
74Bridgestone Americas23,400Nashville, Tenn.www.bridgestoneamericas.comTires, auto productsBridgestone 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.
74Haier America Trading23,400Wayne, NJwww.haierappliances.comAppliancesGE Appliances, a division of Haier America Trading, has expanded production at its Monogram Refrigeration plant in Selmer, Tennessee.
76Skechers USA21,900Manhattan Beach, Calif.www.skechers.comApparel and footwear 
76Hon Hai Precision Industries21,900Houstonwww.foxconn.comElectronics 
78Berkshire Hathaway21,700Throughout United Stateswww.berkshirehathaway.comDiversifiedMade minority investment in Pilot Flying J.
79Shark Ninja21,500Newton, Mass.www.sharkninja.comAppliances 
80L Brands21,200Columbus, Ohiowww.lb.comRetailBrands include Victoria's Secret, Bath and Body Works, PINK, La Senza, and Henri Bendel.
81PVH21,000New Yorkwww.pvh.comApparelPVH operates businesses in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, maximizing the potential of its Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Heritage Brands.
82Joann Fabric and Craft Stores20,900Hudson, Ohiowww.joann.comRetail 
83Bissell Homecare20,800Grand Rapids, Mich.www.bissell.comHouseholdGlobal supplier of vacuums, sweepers, carpet-cleaning machines, and cleaning formulas.
84Marubeni America20,600New Yorkwww.marubeni-usa.comConglomerateMarubeni trades in commodities, agricultural goods, machinery, energy products, and natural resources.
85Conair20,500East Windsor, NJwww.conair.comAppliances and personal careConair sells professional salon products, personal care products, consumer and commercial kitchen appliances, and cookware under more than 25 brand names throughout the world.
85Walgreens Boots Alliance20,500Deerfield, Ill.www.walgreensbootsalliance.comRetail 
87Fonterra USA20,400Rosemont, Ill.www.fonterra.comDairy productsFronterra is testing delivery of Anchor products from New Zealand to China using blockchain technology to improve supply chain traceability and transparency.
88Yokohama Tire20,200Fullerton, Calif.www.yokohamatire.comTires 
89First Solar 20,000Tempe, Ariz.www.firstsolar.comSolarFirst 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.
90American Honda Motor, Honda North America19,900Torrance, Calif. Marysville, Ohiohonda.com americas.hondatrading.com hondainamerica.comAutomotive goods 
91DuPont19,200Wilmington, Del.www.dupont.comDiversifiedDuPont 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.
91CVS Health19,200Woonsocket, RIwww.cvs.comRetail 
93Samsonite 19,000Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kongwww.samsonite.comLuggageSamsonite is opening new stores in China and Hong Kong this year.
94Tractor Supply18,800Brentwood, Tenn.www.tractorsupply.comRetailTractor Supply offers products for the home, land, pets, and animals, with stores in 49 states.
95Raymour & Flanigan Furniture18,600Liverpool, NYwww.raymourflanigan.comRetail 
96Nissan North America/Nissan Trading18,500Franklin, Tenn.; Farmington Hills, Mich.www.nissanusa.comAutomobilesNissan operates these manufacturing facilities in the United States — in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee, and Canton, Mississippi.
97Giti Tire USA17,900Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.www.giti.comTiresGiti Tire began production at its $560-million Richburg, South Carolina, factory in October 2017, with initial production focused on Dextero-brand tires for Walmart.
98E&E17,500Fremont, Calif.www.ee1994.comFurnitureE&E does business as JLA Home, designing, making, and supplying home furnishings.
99Euromarket Designs17,300Northbrook, Ill.www.crateandbarrel.comRetailEuromarket Designs operates as Crate and Barrel, specializing in sales of housewares, furniture, and home accessories.
100Under Armour 17,200Balitmore, Md.www.underarmous.com/en-usApparelCreated global innovation hub for footwear design in Portland, Oregon.


JOC Top 100 EXportersTEU in 2017HeadquartersWebsiteSectorNotes
1America Chung Nam284,500City of Industry, Calif.www.acni.netPaper and plastics recyclablesACN 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.
2International Paper248,400Memphis, Tenn.www.ipaper.comPaper/packagingInternational Paper's Foodservice Business and Coated Paperboard divisions became part of Graphic Packaging International effective Jan. 1, 2018.
3Ralison International130,100Diamond Bar, Calif.www.ralison.netPaper/recyclables 
4Koch Industries120,800Wichita, Kan.www.kochind.comConglomerateKoch Industries is investing in Mesosphere, a cloud computing startup, which plans to develop new projects with Koch.
5International Forest Products109,400Foxboro, Mass.www.ifpcorp.comPackaging/paper products/pulp/forest products/recyclables 
6DeLong106,600Clinton, Wis.www.delongcompany.comAnimal feed/grain 
7WM Recycle America75,300Houston, Texaswww.ecare.recycleamerica.comDiversified/recyclablesWM Recycle America operates nearly 100 plants in the United States and Canada.
8Shintech73,800Houston, Texaswww.shintechinc.comChemicalsShintech is the largest producer of polyvinyl chloride in the United States.
9Louis Dreyfus Commodities68,200Cordova, Tenn.www.ldcom.comCotton/diversified 
10WestRock66,300Norcross, Ga.www.westrock.comPaper/packagingWestRock 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.
11JBS USA65,400Greeley, Colo.www.jbssa.comRefrigerated meats/poultryJBS offers global customers chicken, beef, and pork products under brand names such as Pilgrim's, Swift, Blue Ribbon, and La Herenica.
12ExxonMobil Chemical63,400Spring, Texaswww.exxonmobilchemical.comChemicalsExxonMobil 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.
13Newport CH International62,100Orange, Calif.www.newportchintl.comPaper/metals/plastics recyclablesA direct export shipper for the paper and plastics recycling industry, shipping to mills in many Asian countries.
14BMW of North America61,600Woodcliff Lake, NJ; Spartansburg, SCwww.bmw.usa.comAutomotive goods 
15Cargill57,500Wayzata, Minn.www.cargill.comConglomerate 
16JC Horizon55,600Ontario, Calif.www.jchorizonltd.comPaper/metals/plastics recyclablesJC Horizon's export markets include China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand.
17Eastman Chemical53,800Kingsport, Tenn.www.eastman.comChemicals/fibers/plasticsTenite cellulosics from Eastman is being used by a new toy company, Kando Concepts, in its first collection of Animal Word Puzzles.
18Potential Industries51,600Wilmington, Calif.www.potentialindustries.comPaper/recyclables 
19Domtar48,100Fort Mill, SC; Montreal, Canadawww.domtar.comPaper/forest productsA producer of market pulp used to make paper, tissue, towels, diapers, and personal hygiene items.
20Sims Metal Management47,700New Yorkwww.simsmm.comMetals and electronics/recyclablesOperations encompass buying, processing, and selling ferrous and non-ferrous recylcled metals.
20Cycle Link USA47,700Diamond Bar, Calif.www.cyclelink.comPaper/recyclablesCycle Link parent company ShanYing International sees China's new waste regulations as a big challenge for recyclers.
22Walmart47,600Bentonville, Ark.www.walmartstores.comRetailCompany changed its name to Walmart in February, stepping up its grocery and retail business in stores and online.
23Scoular46,200Omaha, Neb.www.scoular.comFood/grain/feedA global provider of supply chain solutions for end-users and suppliers of grain, feed, and food ingredients.
24Weyerhaeuser45,600Federal Way, Wash.www.weyerhaeuser.comForest/wood products 
25Defense Logistics Agency/Military Surface Deployment & Distribution Command43,900Fort Belvoir, Va. Scott Air Force Base, Ill.www.dla.mil
Military goods 
26BASF North America42,400Florham Park, NJwww.basf.usChemicals-diversified 
27Archer Daniels Midland41,500Chicago, Ill.www.adm.comAgricultureSold Bolivian oilseeds operations.
28Cedarwood-Young (Allan Co.)41,300Baldwin Park, Calif.www.allancompany.comPaper/recyclables 
29Tyson Foods40,400Springdale, Ark.www.tysonfoods.comRefrigerated meats/poultryAcquired AdvancePierre Foods for $4.2 billion including debt.
30Lansing Trade Group40,200Overland Park, Kan.www.lansingtradegroup.comAnimal feed and grainAcquired agricultural trading business of Interstate Commodities Inc.
31Olam International39,600Fresno, Calif.www.olamgroup.comCotton/spices and vegetablesExpanded biscuit production facility in Tema, Ghana.
32Rayonier Advanced Materials37,900Jacksonville, Fla.www.rayonieram.comChemicals/forest products 
33DuPont37,600Wilmington, Del.www.dupont.comDiversifiedDuPont 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.
34Caterpillar36,900Peoria, Ill.www.caterpillar.comMfg-machineryEstablished a global headquarters in Chicago.
35Al Dahra ACX Global35,700Bakersfield Calif.www.acxpacific.comAnimal feed/grain 
36OGO Fibers35,500Richmond Hill, Ontario; Summerville, SCwww.ogofibers.comPaper/recyclables 
37PriceSmart35,000San Diegowww.pricesmart.comMembership warehouse clubOpened two new sites in Costa Rica.
38Smithfield Foods34,500Smithfield, Va.www.smithfieldfoods.comFood/refrigeratedCompleted acquisition of Clougherty Packing.
39Ravago Group33,100Orlando, Fla.www.ravago.comPlastics, rubber, and chemicalsAcquired Polymer Technology and Services.
40Anderson Hay & Grain31,900Ellensburg, Wash.www.anderson-hay.comAnimal feedEstablished JV with Agthia Group to distribute in Middle East.
40Army & Air Force Exchange Service31,900Dallaswww.shopmyexchange.comRetail 
42Dole Food31,200Thousand Oaks, Calif.www.dole.comFruit and vegetables 
43Mercedes Benz USA31,100Atlantawww.mbusa.com www.daimler.comAutomotive goodsEstablished an apprenticeship program through US Department of Labor and US Department of Veterans Affairs in August 2017.
44Gavilon30,800Omaha, Ne.www.gavilon.comAnimal feed/grain 
45AJC International30,500Atlantawww.ajcfood.comFood/refrigerated 
46CHS29,900Inver Grove Heights, MNwww.chsinc.comAgriculture/energy/food 
47Gildan Activewear29,400Montreal, Canadawww.gildan.comApparel Mfg.Acquired American Apparel for $88 million in January 2017.
48Procter & Gamble29,200Cincinnati, Ohiowww.pg.comMfg-consumer products 
49Rio Tinto Minerals28,500Greenwood Village, Colo.www.riotinto.comMinerals 
50Green Plains Trade25,500Omaha, Ne.www.gpreinc.comAnimal feed 
51Ascend Performance Materials25,300Houston, Texaswww.ascendmaterials.comChemicals/fibers/plastics 
52Dow Chemical25,000Midland, Mich.www.dow.comDiversifiedIntroduced new product line for 3D printing.
53Berkshire Hathaway Companies23,600Throughout United Stateswww.berkshirehathaway.comDiversifiedMade minority investment in Pilot Flying J.
54John Deere22,700Moline, Ill.www.deere.comMfg-equipmentIntroduced new compact wheel loaders.
55Chemours22,500Wilmington, Del.www.chemours.comChemicalsBroke ground on new facility to manufacture chemicals used in mining.
56Graphic Packaging Holding22,300Atlanta,Ga.www.graphicpkg.comPaper prodcutsAcquired International Paper's Foodservice and Coated Paperboard divisions effective Jan. 1, 2018.
57Interstate Commodities22,000Troy, NYwww.icigrain.comAnimal feed/grain 
58Genesis Resource Enterprises21,600Springfield, NJwww.egreen4u.comPaper/recyclables 
58American Honda Motor, Honda Trading America21,600Torrance, Calif.; Marysville, Ohiohonda.com americas.hondatrading.com hondainamerica.comAutomotive goods 
60Prairie Creek Grain21,400Elwood, Ill.www.pcgrain.comGrain/animal feed 


Perdue20,900Salisburgy, Md.www.perdue.comFood 
62Fornazor International20,500Hillsdale, NJwww.fornazor.comAnimal feed 
633M20,300St. Paul, Minn.www.3m.comDiversified 
64Michelin North America19,900Greenville, SCwww.michelin.comMfg-tire and rubber 
64Ford Motor19,900Dearborn, Mich.www.ford.comMfg-automobilesSigned deal with Alibaba to reimagine vehicle ownership.
66Nestle19,700Glendale, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Greenwich, Conn.www.nestle.comFood/beverages/pet foodBroke ground on new production facilities in Cuba and Russia.
67Active Minerals International19,500Sparks, Md.www.activeminerals.comMinerals 
68Ekman Group18,800Gothenburg, Miami, Hong Kongwww.ekman-co.sePaper/recyclables 
69Toyota Tsusho America18,700New York, Georgetown, Ky.www.taiamerica.comAutomotive goodsDiscussing LNG marine fuel bunkering in Japan with "K" Line and NYK Line.
70Baillie Lumber18,600Hamburg, NYwww.baillie.comForest/wood products 
71Jordan Trading18,000Kingston, NYhttps://bit.ly/2rJU0QSPaper/recyclables 
72Anheuser Busch InBev17,800St. Louis, Mo.www.anheuser-busch.comBeveragesMerged Russia and Ukraine business with Turkey's Anadolu Efes.
73Sino Paper17,200Anaheim, Calif.www.sino-paper.comPaper/recyclables 
74Mills Brothers International16,800Seattle, Wash.www.millsbros.comFood/grain/feed 
75KaMin16,400Macon, Ga.www.kaminllc.comMinerals-clayOpening new office in São Paulo.
76Mega Fiber16,300Brea, Calif. Paper/recyclables 
77Mitsui & Co.16,100New Yorkwww.mitsui.comConglomerate 
77KapStone Paper and Packaging16,100Northbrook, Ill.www.kapstonepaper.comPaper/paper productsWestRock 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.
79G.A. Paper Intl.15,900Tampa, Fla.; Markham, Canadawww.gapaper.comPaper/recyclables 
79Parkdale Mills15,900Gastonia, NCwww.parkdalemills.comSpun yarns 
81Vinmar International15,400Houston, Texaswww.vinmar.comChemicals/plastics 
82Alco Iron and Metal15,300San Leandro, Calif.www.alcometals.comMetal/recyclables 
83Imerys14,900Roswell, Ga.www.imerys.comMinerals 
84Perez Trading14,800Miami, Fla.www.pereztrading.comPaper/packagingPerez Trading is a world source for paper, packaging board, and technology for the graphic arts industry.
84Advanced Steel Recovery14,800Fontana, Calif.www.advancedsteel.comMetal/recyclables 
86Defense Commissary Agency14,700Fort Lee, VAwww.commissaries.comGroceries/household items 
87Central National Gottesman14,500Purchase, NYwww.cng-inc.comPaper products/pulp/forest productsThe Central National Division sells, markets, and moves paper products and metal to more than 100 global countries.
88Sears Holdings14,200Hoffman Estates, Ill.www.searsholdings.comRetail-consumer goodsKey proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard.
89CellMark Group14,000Norwalk and Stamford, Conn.; Pearl River, NY; San Rafael, Calif.www.cellmark.comDiversified 
90David J. Joseph13,900Cincinnati, Ohiowww.djj.comMetal/recyclablesDJJ does business with scrap and scrap substitute suppliers and consumers in South America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
91Sappi Cloquet13,700Cloquet, Minn.www.sappi.comPaper/pulp/paper productsSappi 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.
92Zen Trading13,600San Francisco, Calif. Animal feed/grain 
92Enerfo13,600Omaha, Ne.www.enerfogroup.comGrain 
94Resolute Forest Products13,400Montreal, Canadawww.resolutefp.comPaper/pulp/wood productsCompany owns and operates 40 manufacturing facilities in the United States and Canada.
94National Beef 13,400Kansas City, Mo.www.nationalbeef.comBeefNational 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.
96Staple Cotton Cooperative Association13,300Greenwood, Miss.www.staplcotn.comCottonStaplcotn is a 100 percent producer-owned company. Producers globally sell their crops as one company.
97Evonik13,200Parsippany, NJwww.evonik.comChemicalsCompany is nearly doubling its capacity for the specialty moulding compounds produced in Arkansas.
98Border Valley Trading13,100Brawley, Calif.www.bordervalley.netAnimal feed/grainBVT exports alfalfa and grass hay/straw to markets in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, among other locations.
98Sonoco Products13,100Hartsville, SCwww.sonoco.comPackagingSonoco acquired Highland Packaging Solutions, a manufacturer of thermoformed packaging for fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs, in April.
100Resource Management Cos. Intl.13,000City of Industry, Calif.www.rmcrecycle.com/Paper/recyclablesRMC 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.