This was the strongest May on record for total international container volume, including empties, at 255,817 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). As new ocean carrier alliance services entered the gateway, volumes increased by 18 percent compared to last year.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance handles record May international container volume

Full imports grew 10 percent to 115,960 TEUs compared to last year as retailers continue to rebuild inventory levels and a favorable market outlook fuels import demand. Despite the strong U.S. dollar, full exports were up 8 percent to 78,086 TEUs. Empty exports also grew 72 percent as ocean carriers continue to reposition empties to Asia in preparation for peak season. The National Retail Federation recently projected in its June – October forecast that imports are expected to continue their strong growth trend.

Year to date, full import volumes were up 11 percent to 578,387 TEUs. Meanwhile, full exports grew 5 percent to 402,829 TEUs. Total international containers, including empties, increased 13 percent year to date to 1,223,535, the highest since 2006.

Total container volumes for the gateway grew 12 percent over the same month last year, and year-to-date volumes were up 8 percent.

Total domestic volumes for the month declined 8 percent compared to the same month last year. Alaska’s year-to-date volumes declined 8 percent and are expected to end the year 5 to 6 percent lower due to soft market conditions. Hawaii volumes through the Pacific Northwest declined 7 percent due to diversion to Southern California.

Other cargo:

  • Driven by consistent demand from China, log volumes were up 93.9 percent to 129,927 metric tons over the same time last year.
  • Breakbulk cargo was down 7 percent, to 69,901 metric tons year to date, due to soft market conditions.
  • Autos, at 59,891 units year to date, slipped 20 percent compared to the same time last year, reflecting weakening U.S. demand and shifting manufacturing locations.

Source: NWSA