Rotterdam transhipment volume breaks 15 million TEU container mark for 1st time

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The Port of Rotterdam will have taken in more than 15 million TEU containers this year by the time 2021 comes to a close next Friday. This is not only a record for the port itself, but also the first time a European port has ever reached such a high figure.

Rotterdam transhipment volume breaks 15 million TEU container mark for 1st time
Photo: Greger Ravik / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The transhipment of containers at the Port of Rotterdam understandably dipped last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, since last autumn, the port has overseen a rapid recovery.

Indeed, the first nine months of 2021 saw a 7.8% growth in TEU volume. This increase, just like at many other ports across the the globe, was fuelled by a boom in consumer spending post lockdown. Even so, the port says that this strong demand, together with the various disruptions (e.g. Suez and outbreaks of coronavirus in Chinese ports), means pressure on the logistics chain remains high.

In terms of TEU volume, transhipment grew faster than in terms of tonnage. According to the port, there were a couple of reasons for this. To a certain extent, the fast growth was due to the increase in the transhipment of empty containers. However, the greatest effect was down to a sharp decline in the average weight of full containers. Transport prices have risen sharply over the past few quarters. Consequently, the transport of relatively heavy, low-value freight has decreased. This effect was most noticeable with export containers but it could also be seen on the import side.

“In 2022 we expect the extreme congestion at the Rotterdam container terminals to continue for the time being. This is because the international container ship fleet and terminal capacity are not growing at a rate commensurate with demand,’ said Emile Hoogsteden, Commercial Director at the Port of Rotterdam Authority. ‘The Port Authority will continue to emphasise and encourage the importance of digitisation, cooperation and data sharing to provide a better response to the global pressure on the logistics chain – now and in the future.”


Photo: Greger Ravik / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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