Ports & Terminals

Export Cargo Volumes Hold Or Grow At Port Houston In Third Quarter

Despite economic conditions that have whipsawed global shippers and some ports, export cargoes at Port Houston have held steady or grown, while some container imports have slightly declined as consumer spending rebounds from the highs of the pandemic lockdown.

The port has once again experienced a significant increase in loaded exports through its Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals. Loaded exports handled in September were the highest on record for a September in the port’s history. Port Houston handled 124,739 loaded export TEUs in September, representing a 21 percent increase compared to September 2022.

The trend of increasing export volumes is expected to continue as the demand for resins remains high. Port Houston exports various types of resins, such as PE, PVC and PP. Port Houston is by far the top export port of resins in the nation and has a 59 percent share of the resin export market in the United States.

Primary export destinations are China, Brazil and Belgium. “Houston is the plastic packaging capital of the U.S., and Port Houston is committed to expeditiously getting those export cargoes through our facilities and on their way to their global destination,” said Roger Guenther, executive director at Port Houston.

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Loaded import volumes at Port Houston in September were 156,161 TEUs, a decline of 12 percent compared to last September and 8 percent year-to-date. Total container volumes at Port Houston are down by just 4 percent through September, currently totaling 2,835,750 TEUs for the year.

At Port Houston’s breakbulk facilities, general cargo declined 22 percent, and steel imports declined 15 percent year-to-date. Total tonnage through Port Houston terminals is down 7 percent through September at 37,893,523 short tons. Auto import units remain strong, however, with an increase of 65 percent year-to-date compared to the same period in 2022.

“Like many ports across the country, Port Houston has seen an expected decline in container import volumes compared to the remarkable numbers seen in 2022,” Guenther said. “Despite the ebbs and flows of the global economy, we remain committed to investing in our terminal infrastructure to meet growing demand, aligning with our partners so we are prepared for the future of the supply chain. Port Houston is in a great position, and we are in this for the long game to serve our valued customers.”

BCOs, carriers, freight forwarders and others joined Port Houston leaders in Houston later in October at the second-annual Houston International Maritime Conference (HIMC). From October 30–November 1, attendees networked and heard from distinguished industry leaders on topics such as ocean carrier alliances, terminal fluidity, chemicals and resins, breakbulk and project cargo, technology, sustainability and more.