Sector development

According to estimates of the market research institute Drewry, global container throughput was weaker than expected in the first half of 2022. In the first quarter of 2022, global container throughput shrank by 0.5 % compared with the previous year’s quarter, which had exhibited strong catch-up effects. In June, Drewry still assumed a slight recovery in throughput volumes for the second quarter.

At European ports, the disruptions to supply chains and the associated congestion at container terminals in the first two months of 2022 were further exacerbated by particularly bad weather conditions, resulting in lower productivity and therefore volume losses at some Northern European ports. The Europe shipping region thus recorded a decrease in volumes of 3.5 % in the first quarter. Despite the noticeable decline in throughput volumes, the Northern European hubs continue to be congested with export containers. Drewry cites the closure of Shanghai and the associated cancellation of approximately a third of scheduled departures as the reason for this container backlog. During this time, forwarders stored export containers in particular at the terminal operators’ storage facilities. In the second quarter, further pressure was put on capacities by the long-term storage of numerous Russian-bound containers blocked by customs. Drewry believes that such congestion means that it will take a long time before processes at the terminals return to normal. In June, however, Drewry expected that the development of throughput in the second quarter would be generally positive.

Development of container throughput by region

in %


Q2 | 22


Q1 | 22





- 0.5

Europe as a whole




- 1.2

North-West Europe




- 3.5

Scandinavia and the Baltic region


- 0.6


- 3.9

Western Mediterranean




- 3.2

Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea





Source: Drewry Maritime Research, June 2022

The throughput figures for the North Range ports reported so far though have not been a clear confirmation of the trend reversal forecast by Drewry for the second quarter. Rotterdam reported a stronger decline of 4.4 % to 7.3 million TEU in the first half-year. After container volumes in Antwerp plummeted by 11.6 % in the first quarter, the pace of the decrease slowed to 6.2 % for the first six months. A total of 6.8 million TEU had passed through the port as of 30 June 2022. At the time of reporting, comparable data for the first half of 2022 was not yet available for all of the ports in the German Bight. In the first quarter, container throughput in the German Bight was on a par with the previous year, with a marginal decline in total throughput volume of 0.2 % to 3.7 million TEU. The Port of Hamburg recorded an increase of 1.8 % to 2.2 million TEU in the first quarter.