Agriculture products help boost Tacoma's 2011 container exports

Increased exports of agriculture products helped boost the Port of Tacoma’s full containerized export volumes by 11 percent in 2011, according to port officials.

Agriculture products account for more than half of the Port’s full containerized exports. Leading agriculture exports through Tacoma include potatoes, hops and hay.

The export of fresh or frozen potatoes through the state grew 106 percent in 2011 over 2010 levels, due to expanded export promotion efforts that helped fuel growth in international demand. Washington state is second behind Idaho in U.S. potato production and leads the nation in potato exports.

“These trade statistics underscore the key role our Port and our region’s transportation system play in keeping our region’s agriculture industry successful and competitive in the global marketplace,” said Tong Zhu, the Port’s chief commercial officer. “The agriculture industry, both regionally and nationally, is a major part of our Port’s business and our cargo diversity. It is also a great example of how we connect companies throughout our state and our country with markets around the world.”

The Port’s total container volumes reached 1,488,799 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, the industry’s standard measure), up 2 percent for 2011. Total international container volumes were up 5 percent for the year, while total domestic container volumes (Alaska and Hawaii) were down 3 percent.

Full import container volumes increased 1 percent for the year, reflecting the continued overall sluggishness of the U.S. economy.

Other 2011 trade results for the Port include:

— Breakbulk cargoes were up 68 percent, with industrial and agricultural equipment performing strong;

— Autos were up 34 percent, reflecting the growing strength of auto sales in the U.S. The Port handled 162,434 autos;

— Log exports increased 45 percent and containerized lumber exports were up 33 percent, both driven by the construction boom in China;

— Grain exports were down 4 percent;

— Total tonnage was up 5 percent, to 17,270,252 tons.

In 2012, the Port forecasts a relatively flat year for container volumes. Log and lumber export volumes will depend largely on the strength of the Chinese economy and its real estate market.

To see all Port of Tacoma 2011 cargo totals, visit .