Port Houston announced Wednesday that July was the biggest month ever recorded for container twenty-foot equivalent units, with 297,621 TEUs moved. That beat the previous record set in March by more than 73,000.

July saw a 27% increase in container TEUs year-over-year (YoY) and was the fifth month of 2021 recording double-digit growth in container TEUs compared to last year.

Consumers are spending at unprecedented levels, driving an increase in cargo across all commodities even as the global supply chain experiences significant challenges like schedule disruptions and vessels backed up waiting to get into ports, Roger Guenther, executive director of Port Houston, said.

“Port Houston is not immune to many of the challenges facing our industry, and we are committed to addressing these head-on,” Guenther said in a statement. “We continue to invest in our infrastructure so we are ready for future growth.”

Maritime imports into Port Houston (ICSTM.HOU) are up significantly year-over-year (as indicated by the blue line), according to FreightWaves’ SONAR platform, which collects data on the daily number of customs filings for maritime imports.

This SONAR chart (ICSTM.HOU) shows a seven-day moving average of imports at Port Houston based on U.S. Customs data (FreightWaves SONAR). To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

In July, the port commission approved a $37 million contract to purchase three new dockside electric container cranes for Wharf No. 6 at the Bayport Container Terminal, which is currently under construction.

Port Houston also recently received five new hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes, and another four cranes are expected to arrive by the end of the month. The additional cranes are part of a strategic plan to optimize infrastructure at the port to increase capacity along the Houston Ship Channel, officials said.

Despite coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, total import tons crossing all of Port Houston’s docks in July increased 25% YoY to 2.1 million.

Total export tons decreased 1% YoY to 2.2 million.

Auto imports saw the largest gains with an increase of 78% YoY to 12,174 tons compared to July 2020.

Steel imports increased 17% YoY to 318,083 tons. Exports of steel from Port Houston decreased 30% YoY to 11,303 tons.

Movement of empty export containers at the port surged 522% YoY to 75,964 TEUs, compared to 12,212 in July 2020. Empty import containers decreased 58% YoY to 9,003 TEUs.

There is a global shortage of containers, with many shippers repositioning empty containers back to Asia as quickly as possible.

Loaded container volumes for both imports and exports in July were mixed. Loaded import containers rose 34% to 137,197 TEUs. Loaded export containers fell 23% to 75,457.

China was Port Houston’s largest international trade partner through the first five months of 2021, accounting for $7.46 billion in imports and exports, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by WorldCity.

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