The port of Antwerp has revealed that it experienced an excellent first quarter (Q1) of 2018, with a freight volume of 58.3m tonnes, an increase of 7.1 per cent on the same period last year.
The total volume is a result of all freight categories with the exception of conventional breakbulk, although the main driver was once again container freight which enjoyed very strong growth of 9.5 per cent compared with the first three months of 2017 – up to The 32.6m tonnes, or 2.74m TEUs (up 10.7 per cent).
In fact, the month of March alone set a new record for container volume with 980,000 TEUs, the port authority noted.
There was growth on all sailing routes, both for imports and for exports, the port explained.
The progress made by European container freight was the most notable, expanding by 14.5 per cent, and container trade with North America for its part was up by 14.7 per cent, while on Asian routes there was growth of 7 per cent.
“In the current social debate on the necessary additional container handling capacity to assure the future of the port of Antwerp and its place in the worldwide supply chain, the underlying assumption is a growth rate of 3.5 per cent per year," explained port authority chief executive Jacques Vandermeiren. "The current growth figures of 9.5 per cent in the container segment not only confirm the need for additional capacity but also make it clear that the operational capacity limit will soon be exceeded and that an expansion in container handling capacity will become necessary much sooner than originally planned.”
Conventional breakbulk performed less well compared with the same period last year, falling by 3.1 per cent to 2.51m tonnes, with fruit one of the categories suffering the largest drop. "The volatility of the respective trades and further containerisation both played a role here," the port authority noted.