Port Houston recorded its best year yet in 2022. Port Houston container annual volume was up 14%, reaching just shy of 4 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), at 3,974,901 TEUs. This is nearly double the volume posted six years earlier in 2016 and 492,526 TEUs more than in 2021. Total tonnage was up 22% for the year, reaching 55,060,963 short tons, a new record.
The port had consistent double-digit growth at Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals from January through November. In December, volumes dipped compared to the record 2021 activity, a softening of demand that mirrors other gateways across the country. A total of 292,027 TEUs were handled at Port Houston during December, a 12% decrease compared to December 2021. Loaded container imports decreased by 16% in December while this was the top December ever for exports, which increased 7% year-over-year.
Steel imports through Port Houston were up 25% in December and 49% for the year. At more than 5 million short tons, it was the highest year for steel import tonnage at Port Houston in more than five years. Steel import products with large increases include line pipe, standard pipe, oil country goods, heavy structural shapes, and wire rods. While down 29% for the month of December, auto import units ended the year 7% up. Bagged goods imports were up 50% as compared to last year.
“The volumes we’ve experienced this year at Port Houston have been incredible, and we never wavered in our commitment to do our part to efficiently move cargo through our terminals,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston. “The record growth seen over the last couple of years has been supported by continued investments in Port Houston terminals as well as the immense dedication of the Port Houston staff and ILA labor who are committed to moving our region’s cargo. As we always have, as we head into 2023, we will continue to stay in front of the curve to provide exceptional service.”