Zepol's Blog of U.S. Imports and Exports

California Drought Impacts Almond Import Prices

Almond Imports California Drought Image

According to the USDA almonds are the third-largest agricultural product grown in California and a multi-billion dollar cash crop for the state. Unfortunately its intense 4-year drought has damaged crop production and even sparked its farming industry to voluntarily cut water-usage by 25 percent. Most people are unaware that California provides 80 percent of the world’s almond supply, but with the worst drought in history impacting the region, trade is suffering.

International exporters from mainly Australia, Spain, and Italy have taken advantage of the shortage and jacked up almond prices. Zepol’s data shows that the average price per kilogram of imported almonds has exploded in the last year. In the first quarter of 2014, U.S. almond imports were $3.91 per kilogram. Now in the first quarter of 2015, the average price per kilogram has reached $11.44, nearly triple the cost.

View the graph below to see the change in cost of almond imports from 2012-2015.

Almond import price increases from drought graph

Not only has the cost of imported almonds expanded but also the sheer volume of imports. In 2011, the United States imported about 3.8 million kilograms of almonds but in 2014 imports grew to over 22.6 million kilograms. With the way the water supply is going, it looks like the surge in imports will continue.

California’s fertile landscape is home to dozens of other major cash crops for the nation including grapes, hay, lettuce, walnuts, and more. International trade for these products could also be affected by the severe water shortage. To search for alternative suppliers and buyers for these crops, or simply find more information, search Zepol’s data in a Free Trial.

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Zepol Publishes its Annual 2014 U.S. Port Report

Zepol has published its annual, popular, and not to mention free, trade report titled 'Zepol's 2014 U.S. Port Report.' Thousands of trade professionals download this report every year to gain a better perspective on their industry. Readers can monitor trade lanes and competitors, view the flow of imported goods, discover new business opportunities, and even make predictions for trade in 2015. 
Image Zepol's 2014 Port Report
Every page provides detailed import information for the top 20 U.S. ocean ports and compares statistics from 2013 to 2014. Additionally, this year the report contains a professional analysis of the data from the trade publication, and report sponsor, Port Technology International.

Click this link for a free download ‘Zepol’s 2014 U.S. Port Report’:

“Our port report is the most popular piece of content we publish annually,” states Zepol’s CEO Paul Rasmussen. “With so much going on at West Coast ports this year, its insights are not only intriguing but extremely valuable for trade professionals and analysts.”

The data includes an individual profile for each top 20 port including:
  • Import volume (TEUs) my month from 2013 to 2014
  • Key import companies at each port
  • Top 5 master carriers
  • Leading products imported
  • Total value of goods
  • Countries of origin

Data Note: The data in this report does not include empty containers, or shipments labeled as 'freight remaining on board,' and may contain other data anomalies.

What’s an HS or HTS Code?

An HS code or HTS code stands for Harmonized System or Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the codes are used to classify and define internationally traded goods. In most cases, in order to import or export a product internationally, the traded good must be assigned an HTS code that corresponds with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the country of import.

The difference between an HS code and HTS code is the number of digits within the code. A code with six digits is a universal standard (HS Code) and a code with 7-10 digits (HTS Code) is often unique after the 6th digit and determined by individual countries of import.

These codes are important because they not only determine the tariff/duty rate of the traded product, but they also keep a record of international trade statistics that are used in nearly 200 countries. For example, the United States Census uses these codes to determine the value, quantities, weights, countries traded with, and more, of every product that the United States imports and exports.

This link lists the entire Harmonized Tariff Schedule for the United States: www.zepol.com/products/free-trade-tools/hts-codes. You can drill into any schedule to see import and export values for any of the 42,847+ HS and HTS codes.

These codes go from 2-digit chapters and narrow down to a specific 10-digit code. Currently there are 99 chapters (132 including subchapters), 1,260 4-digit codes, 5,382 6-digit codes, 14,225 8-digit codes, and 21,848 10-digit codes.

Each section of the 10-digit HTS code represents a predefined nomenclature. See a definition of each HTS section in the graphic below. Try clicking into a 10-digit HTS code (Click Here). Notice how the HTS code becomes more defined and segmented as the number of digits increase.

HTS Code Category Definition Image

U.S. Imports Impacted by West-Coast Port Issues

Top US Ports Change in 2015 Graph
Zepol's data shows that total U.S. container imports are down over 5 percent this year, compared to January and February of 2014. Nearly the entire decline in imports was attributed to West Coast ports. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which make up a combined 40 percent of U.S. container imports, declined by 19 and 20 percent so far in 2015. East Coast ports have reaped the benefit, especially the port of New York/Newark, which increased container imports by 8 percent this year.

“The decline along the West Coast has led to diverted shipments and a surplus in volume across the Atlantic and Gulf Coast,” confirms Zepol’s CEO and trade data expert Paul Rasmussen. “Due to these events, it’s the first time in over 11 years the port of New York/Newark has passed Long Beach as the second-largest port in the United States.”

Total U.S. imports by TEUs (twenty-foot containers) dropped from 2.93 million in January through February of 2014 to 2.78 million in 2015. Combined, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have declined by over 230,000 TEUs compared to the first two months of 2014.

Most East Coast and Gulf-Coast ports haven’t seen decay, but growth in containers. The port of New York/Newark grew by over 34,000 TEUs. The port of Savannah increased 20 percent with an increase of over 40,000 TEUs and Houston rose 29 percent, by nearly 31,000 TEUs.

Below is a table of the top 20 ports in 2015 compared with 2014 (Jan-Feb only)

US Port TEUs
(Jan-Feb 2015)
(Jan-Feb 2014)
% Change
Los Angeles, CA 521,579 640,743 -19%
New York/Newark 466,799 432,789 8%
Long Beach, CA 444,198 556,247 -20%
Savannah, GA 239,611 199,134 20%
Norfolk, VA 148,626 143,161 4%
Houston, TX 138,253 107,296 29%
Charleston, SC 122,299 107,601 14%
Tacoma, WA 102,613 118,405 -13%
Oakland, CA 93,236 127,948 -27%
Seattle, WA 87,706 79,798 10%
Miami, FL 63,109 54,575 16%
Port Everglades, FL 60,696 61,494 -1%
Baltimore, MD 49,544 48,837 1%
Philadelphia, PA 36,349 26,488 37%
Jacksonville, FL 25,223 28,034 -10%
Wilmington, DE 24,384 28,229 -14%
San Juan, PR 24,154 22,559 7%
New Orleans, LA 18,553 12,251 51%
Wilmington, NC 16,744 15,943 5%
Boston, MA 16,185 15,531 4%
All Others 83,168 99,635 -17%
TOTAL 2,783,029 2,926,697 -5%

Data Note: The data in this report does not include empty containers, or shipments labeled as ‘freight remaining on board,’ and may contain other data anomalies.

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Top 10 U.S. Imports in 2014

U.S. imports increased 3 percent from 2013 to 2014 and totaled over $2.3 trillion. The top products imported for the year include crude oil, passenger cars, TVs and radios, and pharmaceuticals. Oil has remained the top product imported, although U.S. imports of crude oil were down over 10 percent in 2014. Passenger car imports increased 1 percent from last year and foreign pharmaceuticals increased over 9 percent. View all the top 10 imports in the 2 tables below.

Zepol has arranged the top 10 imports in 2014 by the following product classification systems:

  • HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule)
  • NAICS (North American Industry Classification System)
  • SITC (Standard International Trade Classification)
  • End-Use (Commodity category developed by the Bureau of Economic Analysis)
The top 10 U.S. imports by total value for 2014 by HTS code and NAICS code.

Top 10 HTS Codes
Total Value
Top 10 NAICS Codes
Total Value
1 Petroleum Oils - 2709.00 $246,970,309,200   Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas - 211111 $257,403,003,846
2 Passenger Motor Vehicles - 8703.23 $83,877,636,834   Automobiles - 336111 $152,718,345,087
3 Passenger Motor Vehicles - 8703.24 $60,188,834,864   Radio and Television Broadcasting Equipment - 334220 $104,152,026,677
4 Imports of Articles Exported and Returned - 9801.00 $55,778,144,525   Petroleum Refinery Products - 324110 $81,636,535,282
5 Telephones for Cellular Networks - 8517.12 $53,001,623,809   Pharmaceutical Preparations - 325412 $59,494,499,150
6 Petroleum Oils - 2710.19 $48,833,922,891   Goods Returned to Canada (exports) Goods Returned Re-Imported (imports) - 980000 $59,313,459,738
7 Portable Digtl Data Processing Machines - 8471.30 $41,972,905,094   Electronic Computers - 334111 $50,779,917,165
8 Medicaments - 3004.90 $39,663,624,067   Women's, Infants, Apparel - 315240 $45,597,716,712
9 Machines for Transmission of Voice - 8517.62 $33,488,670,610   Iron & Steel - 331110 $42,978,580,547
10 Light Oils & Preparations - 2710.12 $27,632,406,108   Semiconductors & Related Devices - 334413 $40,570,472,203

The top 10 U.S. imports by total value for 2014 by End-Use and SITC code.

Top 10 End-Use Products
Total Value
Top 10 SITC Codes
Total Value
1 Crude Oil - 10000 $246,409,332,120   Petroleum Oils - 33300 $246,970,309,200
2 Passenger cars, new & used - 3000 $153,455,547,386   Motor Vehicles - 78120 $153,991,178,982
3 Other parts and accessories - 30230 $100,453,025,342   Petroleum Oils - 33460 $77,024,746,943
4 Household Goods - 41050 $95,943,441,710   Special Transactions & Commodities - 93100 $60,631,101,522
5 Pharmaceutical Preparations - 40100 $92,024,502,998   Telephone Sets - 76411 $54,395,248,374
6 Computers - 21300 $63,694,898,348   Digtl Data Processing Machines - 75220 $41,972,905,094
7 Telecommunications Equipment - 21400 $58,685,579,379   Medicaments - 54293 $39,663,624,067
8 Computer Accessories - 21301 $57,918,674,557   Apparatus for Voice Transmission - 76412 $35,488,926,778
9 U.S. Goods Returned & Reimported - 50020 $55,779,259,530   Car Parts & Accessories - 78439 $30,406,964,328
10 Industrial Machines - 21180 $53,753,538,819   Diamonds - 66729 $24,051,222,004

About the Data in this Blog:
The data in the blog derives from Zepol's database of U.S. Census imports and exports, TradeView. The values and products are ranked by total value (USD).

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