Sector development

According to estimates of the market research institute Drewry, global container throughput made a strong recovery in the first half of 2021: Growth of 10.0 % was recorded in the first quarter of 2021. Even compared with the pre-pandemic levels of Q1 2019, growth still amounted to 7.5 %. For the second quarter of 2021, experts expect a further increase in global container throughput of 16.6 %.

Development of container throughput by region

in %


Q2 | 21


Q1 | 21






Europe as a whole





North-West Europe





Scandinavia and the Baltic region





Western Mediterranean





Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea




- 1.3

Source: Drewry Maritime Research, July 2021

In the shipping region Europe, the recovery of container throughput was slightly weaker than the global average. Although the pace of growth was still modest in the first quarter of 2021, Drewry expects a 12.1 % jump in volumes handled by European ports in the second quarter. Significant momentum is expected above all from the North-West Europe and Western Mediterranean shipping regions. According to forecasts, however, Scandinavia and the Baltic region will have difficulty recovering and matching the growth trajectory of the other shipping regions.

In the North Range, Rotterdam benefitted of the economic recovery with throughput of 7.6 million TEU in the reporting period, 8.7 % more containers than in the first half of 2020. As of 30 June 2021, 5.1 % more containers passed over the quayside in Antwerp than in the same period of the previous year. At the time of reporting, no comparable data for the first half of 2021 was yet available for all port in the German Bay. A total of 3.7 million TEU were handled in Hamburg, the Bremen ports and Wilhelmshaven in the first quarter of 2021. This corresponds to a year-on-year increase of 6.1 %. If the recovery continues, a further increase in throughput volume is expected for the second quarter. The ports of Bremen reported a volume increase of 11.1 % to 2.6 million TEU for the first half-year. At 3.1 million TEU, throughput at HHLA’s three Hamburg container terminals was up by 0.5 % year-on-year in the first six months of 2021.