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.”
THE JOC TOP 100 IMPORTERS
|US FOREIGN TRADE VIA OCEAN CONTAINER TRANSPORT|
|JOC Top 100 Importers||TEU in 2017||Headquarters||Website||Sector||Notes|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
THE JOC TOP 100 EXPORTERS
|US FOREIGN TRADE VIA OCEAN CONTAINER TRANSPORT|
|JOC Top 100 EXporters||TEU in 2017||Headquarters||Website||Sector||Notes|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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.|
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.