Baltimore bridge disaster's impact on supply chain

The March 26 collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, following a collision with a massive container ship that lost power, is expected to cause supply-chain disruptions among many industries, including the industries that use plywood and other wood products.

Imports will not be able to enter the port, and exports cannot leave as the collapsed bridge blocks the primary route into the Baltimore port. Imported commodities from overseas will need to be diverted to other ports of entry.

Based on Census data, the United States imported more than $3.08 trillion worth of goods from overseas. Baltimore imported $58.8 billion worth of goods in 2023, making it the 5th largest port of entry on the eastern seaboard and 15th largest overall in the U.S.

Baltimore’s largest import for 2023 was personal motor vehicles ($22.47 billion import value), followed by heavy duty machinery such as bulldozers and excavators ($3.62 billion). Unwrought aluminum was the 5th highest valued import for Baltimore at $1.25 billion.

Top imports related to the home building industry include:

  • Plywood, veneered panels and similar laminated wood ($425.07 million), which represents 16% of the U.S. total import value for 2023, making it the most important port for plywood imports.
  • Gypsum ($23.99 million), representing 14% of the U.S. total import value for 2023 and the highest level of gypsum imports for any U.S. port.
  • Sawn lumber ($198.22 million), which represents 3% of the U.S. total import value for 2023, making Baltimore the 11th most important port for sawn lumber imports.

In 2022, the top imports, according to, were automobiles/light trucks, salt, paper/paperboard, gypsum, and plywood/veneer/particle board.

In January of this year, the port moved more than 62,000 container tons of forest product, reported Furniture Today, citing Maryland statistics. That’s the largest amount moved since August 2023.



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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).