The Port of Los Angeles, which has experienced record volume amid an online buying surge during the COVID-19 pandemic, became the first port in the Western Hemisphere Thursday to process 10 million container units in a one-year period.
“The port is the beating heart of our economy, the backbone of our region’s prosperity, and the crossroads that makes Los Angeles a true gateway to the rest of the world,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a celebration of the milestone. “Reaching this remarkable milestone is a reflection of its role as a critical engine of the global supply chain — and a testament to our unmatched port infrastructure and highly-skilled workforce.”
The 10 millionth container, which contains soy beans from the DeLong Company that will be sent to Asia after originating in Illinois, was processed shortly after 1 p.m. into a CMA CGM container vessel at the port’s Fenix Marine Container Terminal. Garcetti, along with Councilman Joe Buscaino, joined Los Angeles Harbor Commission President Jaime Lee, Port Executive Director Gene Seroka and CMA CGM President El Aldridge to celebrate the milestone.
“What we’ve collectively achieved today is a result of the incredibly hard work and perseverance of many,” said Port Executive Director Gene Seroka. “With our sustained focus on supply chain digitalization, infrastructure investments and strong business relationships, we have the opportunity to build on this historic milestone. Special thanks to our long- time partners, the CMA CGM Group, who share our vision for success both today and in the future.”
The port is the number one North American port by container volume and cargo value, and in 2020 it moved 9.2 million 20-foot equivalent units. In May, Seroka announced that the port set cargo records during six of its last nine months, and the other three months came close to setting new records. Port terminals moved an average of 15 container ships each day, up from an average of 10 per day before the pandemic. By the end of the 2021 fiscal year on June 30, the port will have processed more than 10.8 million TEUs, port officials predict.
“Each one of these 10 million boxes represents jobs and economic prosperity for not only the Harbor Area but the entire Southern California region,” said Buscaino, whose 15th District includes the Port. “I salute all the waterfront workers who work tirelessly to move all this cargo, particularly the men and women of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.”
The port remained open every day during the COVID-19 pandemic, and longshore labor ships increased 20% in 2021 compared to the average weekly shift count over the last four years.
“Stacked end-to-end, 10 million containers would circle the world one and a half times,” said Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners President Jaime Lee. “It’s a lot of cargo to handle by any measure. We are deeply grateful to the longshore workers, truckers, terminal operators, shipping line partners and all of the stakeholders that have made this remarkable achievement possible, particularly in the face of an unprecedented pandemic.”
The record-breaking milestone comes in year that treated the region’s shipping industry well; two months ago, the Port of Long Beach posted its best April in history.