Port of Oakland says Q1 2021 is all-time best for cargo volume

Oakland, Calif. – May 6, 2021: Port of Oakland containerized trade volume reached record levels in the first quarter of 2021. The Port said today its total volume from January through March equaled 631,119 20-foot containers. That topped the Port’s previous record of 612,151 set in Q1 2019.

Port officials said, the surge reflects unprecedented activity levels in trade between the U.S. and Asia. It added that there’s no sign of a letup in the trans-Pacific trade route.

“Our business has been growing for nearly a year now,” said Port Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Based on the evidence, we expect the trend line to keep going up.”

The Port said it’s optimistic about further trade growth based on several indicators:

  • Freight rates for ships in the trans-Pacific trade are near all-time highs, reflecting strong demand.
  • Ships sailing between Asia and the U.S. West Coast are nearly full.
  • Vessels at West Coast ports sometimes wait days for crowded berth space.

Oakland said it handled record import and export volume in the month of March. April totals aren’t due for two weeks, but the Port said it expects another strong report.

Industry analysts attribute the ongoing trade surge to a recovering U.S. economy. Much of the momentum, they say, comes from the coronavirus-weary public. Economists and others say consumers are spending to counter the frustration of lockdowns – a phenomenon known as retail therapy. That’s spurring manufacturers and retailers to replenish warehouse inventories with goods sourced in Asia.

Asia accounts for most of Oakland’s containerized trade volume. The Port introduced two new vessel services in the first quarter linking the U.S. to Asian ports.

About the Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and nearly 20 miles of waterfront including Jack London Square. The Port’s 5-year strategic plan – Growth with Care – pairs business expansion with community benefits, envisioning more jobs and economic stimulus as the Port grows. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 84,000 jobs. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com. 

Media Contacts

Robert Bernardo
Port of Oakland
Acting Communications Director
(510) 627-1401
[email protected] 

Marilyn Sandifur
Port of Oakland
Port Spokesperson
(510) 627-1193
[email protected] 



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