In the first quarter of 2023, 1.5% less freight passed through the port of Rotterdam than in the same period last year. In total, 111.7 million tonnes were handled compared with 113.4 million tonnes in the same period in 2022. The fall mainly concerned the throughput of containers and freight in the breakbulk segment (Roll-on/Roll-off and other general cargo). Throughput in the mineral oil products, crude oil, LNG, iron ore & scrap, agribulk, and coal segments increased.
Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority: "As expected, the year 2023 started with a slight decline in throughput. Especially in the container segment, we faced a decline in volumes due to high inflation and a weakening economy. Results in the other segments mainly show growth and confirm that dependence on Russian energy flows has been further reduced in line with the sanctions. For the remainder of the year, we expect a limited decline in throughput volumes due to the uncertainties posed by the current geopolitical situation and high inflation."
The dry bulk segment showed a slight growth of 0.2% to 17.9 million tonnes in the first quarter. In this segment, iron ore & scrap, and coal are the main commodities. Both commodities showed an increase. The throughput of iron ore & scrap rose by 10.1% to 6.2 million tonnes. As a result of the temporary failure of blast furnaces in Dunkirk, Gijón, and IJmuiden, factories in Rotterdam's hinterland operated more intensively. This was also the cause of the increased demand for cokes for steel production. In the first quarter, the total coal throughput increased by 26.3% to 7.4 million tonnes.
Container throughput decreased 11.5% by weight to 31.5 million tonnes and 11.6% by volume to 3.2 million TEU (the standard unit for containers). This decline had already started during 2022 due to the elimination of volumes to and from Russia. As the war in Ukraine only began in late February, the impact on throughput volumes in the first quarter of last year was still limited. In the past, these volumes accounted for 8% of total container throughput.
The decline in imports from Asia (-14.2% in TEUs) due to lower demand for physical goods due to accumulated stocks and inflation was also reflected in the throughput figures. Despite the strong improvement in chain performance, no transshipment has been recovered yet in the first quarter. These volumes moved to smaller ports due to congestion during the pandemic.
RoRo and other breakbulk
The total throughput in the breakbulk segment (Roll-on/Roll-off and other general cargo) decreased by 6.0% to 7.9 million tonnes. RoRo traffic decreased by 2.2% to 6.6 million tonnes compared with the first quarter of last year. This was due to lower demand from the UK due to a moderately performing economy.
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Port of Rotterdam
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