The cargo volume handled remains a key performance indicator for ports. While also other indicators related to logistics performance, sustainability, innovation and economic impact are gaining ground, it remains relevant to observe how cargo volumes have evolved over time. The table shows the top 15 container ports in the European Union in 2017 based on container throughput expressed in TEU. It also includes container growth figures compared to 2016 and pre-crisis year 2007.
What do the figures reveal?
Top 15: y-o-y increase in container traffic of 4.2% in 2017
Last year, the top 15 ports recorded a growth of 4.2%. In 2015 the top 15 ports saw a small traffic decline of 1.6% compared to 2014. In 2016 they recorded a modest growth of 2.1%. The year 2017 brought a double digit growth for Barcelona, Genoa, Le Havre, Rotterdam, Piraeus and Sines, while Mediterranean transhipment hubs Gioia Tauro and Algeciras saw a sharp decline in box volumes.
Top 15: 19.8% increase in container traffic between 2007 and 2017
The top 15 ports combined saw a 19.8% increase in container traffic compared to pre-crisis year 2007. Only two of the 15 ports recorded container volumes in 2017 which still remain below the 2007 figures: transhipment hub Gioia Tauro and German mainport Hamburg. The performance of Hamburg – Europe’s number three container port (-10.8% compared to 2007) – sharply deviates from the growth pattern observed in the two largest European ports which both managed to increase TEU volumes by some 27-28% in the period 2007-2017.
2007-2017: South European ports with a substantial transhipment focus show strongest growth
Star growers during the 2007-2017 period are found in southern Europe: Sines (10 times more volume), Piraeus (+196%), Marxaxlokk and Valencia. It mostly concerns ports which heavily rely on sea-sea transhipment volumes. When it comes to ports with a stronger gateway/hinterland orientation, Genoa, Rotterdam and Antwerp are the strongest growers.
Piraeus and Sines remain the most notable newcomers, with Gdansk moving closer to a top 15 spot
Only few changes took place when it comes to the ports that made it to the top 15. Valencia and Algeciras traded places and Barcelona jumped from the 13th to the 10th position. Piraeus gained one place and ranked 7th in 2017, while Gioia Tauro lost most places. Piraeus was not in the top 15 in 2007. In that year, Constantza ranked no. 15 (1.41 million TEU) and Zeebrugge no. 11 (2.02 million TEU). Sines joined the top 15 only in 2016 filling the spot previously occupied by Zeebrugge (1.56 mio TEU in 2015 and reaching 1.52 million TEU in 2017). The port of Gdansk realized a growth of 21.6% to reach 1.58 million TEU in 2017, but did not make it the top 15 list (for now).