TACOMA, WASHINGTON, U.S. — The Port of Tacoma handled 1.89 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in 2013, returning closer to the 2 million container cargo mark it first reached in 2005, the port reported on Jan. 22.
Double-digit growth in imports and exports, along with 16% more vessel calls, contributed to the 10.5% percent gain. Full containerized exports improved nearly 16% to 529,255 TEUs, and imports were up 14% to 695,748 TEUs.
Growth in 2013 import container volumes continues to reflect the addition of the Grand Alliance shipping consortium midway through 2012. While people have begun buying homes and goods again, consumer confidence remains low and spending remains below pre-recession levels.
Intermodal lifts mirrored the growing container volumes, posting a nearly 11% gain on the year. Auto imports and log exports also performed well in 2013, improving 8% and 17% respectively.
Meanwhile, breakbulk cargo volumes finished the year down 21%. The decline was expected as cargo volumes moderate following two years of record-breaking volumes.
Grain exports also declined 43% in 2013, impacted by increased competition from South America and severe weather conditions in the U.S. Midwest. Grain exports through Tacoma improved significantly through the fourth quarter of 2013, hinting at a rebound.