Up 20 percent! Port of Houston Containerized Cargo Jumps in March

Port Houston & ONE Mission Container Ship

In March, the Port of Houston processed 360,991 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), marking a 20% year-on-year increase. Officials noted a 4% rise in overall cargo volume through the Houston Ship Channel and the port’s two container facilities, Barbours Cut and Bayport, for the first quarter.

“Container throughput for the first quarter was notably strong as of March,” stated Roger Guenther, Executive Director of the Port of Houston, during a Tuesday port commission meeting.

Guenther attributed a 23% year-on-year increase in import volume for March, with a 14% year-to-date increase, to consumer spending on furniture and appliances. “Shippers indicate [demand] is much stronger than anticipated,” said Guenther. “The National Retail Federation, representing many of our import retail customers, particularly from Asia, suggests import strength will continue for the remainder of the year.”

From January to March this year, the Port of Houston handled 1.06 million TEUs, a 15% increase compared to the same period in 2023. Guenther highlighted significant exports of hydrocarbons, plastic resins, and other locally sourced products, which continue to grow steadily.

Export volume, primarily resin, increased by 12% in March, with a 15% year-to-date increase totaling 404,124 standard containers. “We’ve had a strong start to the first quarter with throughput surpassing 1 million standard containers,” stated Guenther. “While our multipurpose facilities, general cargo, and turning basin general cargo docks have experienced some breakdowns, it’s always a cyclical environment.”

In March, general import cargo decreased by 29% year-on-year to 524,490 tons. Steel imports decreased by 18% to 345,473 tons, while steel exports decreased by 107% to 67,747 tons.

Lumber prices increased by 16% in March, with an 18% year-to-date increase. As of March, total tonnage across all Houston port terminals increased by 4%, reaching a total of 13.4 million tons year-to-date.

In March, the Port of Houston saw 685 vessel calls, an 8% decrease year-on-year, with barge calls totaling 307, a 2% decrease year-on-year.

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