U.S. containerized exports dropped 3% year-over-year in October after a strong third quarter, an abrupt brake that included the first decline in motor vehicle exports in more than a year, reported The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.

Year-to-date export volume was still up 7.1%. JOC/PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno forecasts a 5.8% growth for 2011, slowing to 3.8% for full year 2012.

Overall U.S. containerized volume, measured in 20-foot-equivalent units, fell to just under 1.01 million TEUs in October 2011, as markets in Europe, the Mediterranean and South America tumbled.

A 7% overall drop marked the first year-over-year decline in motor vehicles in 14 months. For Northern Europe, this accounted for an exports loss of 38%. Brazilian demand for miscellaneous plastic products, wood pulp and chemicals reversed sharply, leading to a 25% decrease to 25,444 TEUs of containerized exports shipped there.

On the upswing are exports to Africa, up 20% due to increased demand for grocery products, poultry and vinyl alcohol, and China, where meat volumes jumped 195% and U.S. logs and lumber rose 64%.