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Sharp drop in cargo handled at European ports

Sharp drop in cargo handled at European ports © La Ville du Havre

© La Ville du Havre


Shipping companies have suffered heavily from the effects of the pandemic, with volumes handled dropping by over a third in some cases. In the first nine months of 2020, Northern European ports registered a 6% fall in volumes compared to the same period in 2019, handling 31.3 million TEU, according to data published by

Wilhelmshaven in Germany was the most affected port, with a 35% Y-O-Y fall in volumes, and market share dropping by 30%. Similarly, Le Havre in France saw its volumes drop by almost a quarter in the same period, with an 18% loss in market share.

Antwerp was the only port that has not lost volumes and has gained 7% in market share.

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Record freight volume for port of Antwerp

For the first time, the Port of Antwerp’s shipping container volume has risen above 10 million TEU

The port of Antwerp is set to end 2016 having handled a record volume of more than 214 million tons of freight.

And for the first time in its history, the shipping container volume has risen above 10 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, i.e. standard containers), the port said in a press release.

“Liquid bulk is also showing year-on-year expansion and with an estimated volume of just under 70 million tons it’s the second main foundation on which freight growth in Antwerp is based.

“There are positive figures also in the conventional breakbulk and dry bulk sectors, although overall the totals for both segments are negative. The continuing trend towards containerisation has depressed the volumes of, among other things, fruit and paper.

“Meanwhile the volumes of coal and ore have fallen drastically in all North-West European ports,” it said.

Containers and breakbulk

The container volume rose 4.1% over the past 12 months and is expected to end the year at just under 118 million tons. In terms of the number of containers, this represents more than 10 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), a 4.2% increase.

“With these excellent growth figures Antwerp has further expanded its market share in the Hamburg – Le Havre range. Antwerp has also managed to considerably improve its position in the Far East trade over the past few years, at the expense of its direct competitors Rotterdam and Hamburg.

“The situation among international container shipping companies has altered dramatically in the past few years, with companies entering into collaboration and forming alliances in order to achieve cost savings and efficiencies of scale.

“In 2017 the shipping scene will be dominated by 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance, making it more important than ever for ports to secure their place in the respective sailing schedules. So far Antwerp has managed very well in this respect.

“In the meantime the ro/ro volume has declined by 1.9%, totalling 4.56 million tons at the end of the 12-month period. This negative result is due to the performance on the export side, as ro/ro exports to Africa and the Near East are down 15% and 18% respectively. In fact exports to all countries around the Persian Gulf have dipped.

On the import side, however, the ro/ro volume is up by 9.5%.

“The conventional breakbulk volume for its part contracted by 2.4%, ending the year at 9.76 million tons. Steel on the other hand experienced strong growth of 12%, but the lower volumes of non-ferrous metals, paper & cellulose and fruit meant that the amount of conventional breakbulk was down overall,” it said.

Seagoing ships

The number of seagoing ships calling at Antwerp rose by 0.7% in 2016: by 31 December a total of 14,523 ships are expected to have visited Antwerp. Apart from the increased number of ships, the growth in gross tonnage is up 9.5% to 402.6 million GT.

“This figure illustrates well how ships visiting Antwerp are getting bigger and bigger: in 2016 Antwerp welcomed 458 container carriers of 13,000 TEU or more, whereas last year the number in this category was only 320,” the port said.

It said the above freight figures are provisional, with definitive ones expected in the second half of January.

Source of images and information: Port of Antwerp

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Port of Antwerp handling more freight this year

Increased containerisation has led to a lower conventional volume of fruit (down 26.5% to 377,418 tons) at the Port of Antwerp.

The volume of freight handled by the Port of Antwerp for the first 9 months of this year totalled 161.67 million tons – a figure up 3.3% on the same period last year.

In a press release, the port said its container volume for January-September saw growth of 4%, exceeding 7.5 million TEU and further expanding Antwerp’s market share for containers in the Hamburg-Le Havre range.

The container volume rose 3.7% to nearly 88.64 million tons. Ro/ro was down 1.9% at just under 3.4 million, while the volume of conventional breakbulk remained practically the same at 7.26 million tons.

“On the down side, increasing containerisation led to a lower conventional volume of paper (down 44.4% to 436,444 tons) and fruit (down 26.5% to 377,418 tons),” the port said.

Seagoing ships

The number of seagoing ships was up 1%, with the number of calls totalling 10,894 as at October 1.

“Not only was there an increase in the number of ships, there was continuing strong growth in gross tonnage. This rose by 11.3% to 301.66 million GT, demonstrating the trend towards ever larger vessels,” it said.

Photo: Antwerp Port Authority

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Barcelona: a port of reference for international logistics

Due to its excellent service, several international shipping companies have made a firm commitment to the Catalan port, designating it as the last stopover to load their ships, especially those destined for long-distance fruit export.

Until recently, Spanish fruit companies saw Europe as the main market focus, but the economic crisis and blockade on deliveries to Russia and other factors have created a new scenario forcing many companies to reassess and diversify their markets.

In this vein, the Port of Barcelona facilitates external trade for companies in the region, as shown by its traffic. Until 2007, the main volume of fresh produce traffic via the Catalan port was in imports, above all from the Southern Hemisphere with citrus at the forefront.

Since then, its fruit traffic in exports has seen great growth, almost reaching the same level as imports. “Exports continue to grow and the Port of Barcelona facilitates this process,” said the head of promotion at the Port Community, Manuel Galán.

With nearly 100 regular lines connecting the Catalan capital directly to over 200 ports on the five continents, Barcelona is the top port in the country for international traffic.

“The quality of Spanish fruit is appreciated in areas such as the Middle East. This is why we have a high frequency of voyages available, whether direct or with stopovers, with a transit time of 12 to 14 days,” Galán said. 

Furthermore, the close collaboration between the Port of Barcelona and the Italian shipping company Grimaldi is reflected in a wide range of short sea shipping services. An example of this is the increased connection between Barcelona and Porto Torres, which Galán said has made Mercabarna one of the main suppliers for Sardinia. 

“Our aim is to position ourselves as the main distribution hub in southern Europe. To do so, in the sphere of fresh produce we have a strategic partner in Mercabarna, the main wholesale market in Catalonia, which enables us to provide a competitive service tailored to our clients,” he said.

Common interests and aims have led to this solid alliance between Mercabarna and the Port of Barcelona, which in turn has led them to participate together in the major fairs in the sector such as Fruit Attraction in Madrid and Fruit Logisitica in Berlin, where they exhibit in a trio along with the Italian shipping company Grimaldi. 

In addition, the Port of Barcelona is working in collaboration with Mercabarna, Barcelona City Council and the company Ecoenergies on a project using the residual cooling generated by the regasification of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to provide industrial cooling for Mercabarna’s refrigeration installations.

“This centralised cold network will enable CO2 emissions to be reduced as well as savings in energy and costs,” Galán said. GNL’s commitment to the Port of Barcelona also includes supplying this fuel to ships, trucks and port machinery in order to offer a competitive, sustainable alternative to their clients, as well as a more environmentally friendly energy solution. 

This article was originally published on page 37 of edition 145 (Sep-Oct 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue online here: 

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Port of Antwerp invests in West Africa

The Belgian group Sea-Invest, which already operates in Côte d’Ivoire in the port of Abidjan, will take the lead for this €5.5 million project with construction due to start early next year and the platform expected to be operational around the summer period of next year.

The port of Antwerp and the port of San Pedro in Côte d’Ivoire are working together to cater to the further expansion of the West African trading post.

The world’s top cocoa bean port, San Pedro aims to develop at regional level to also become a logistics hotspot for commodities such as fertilisers and cashew nuts.

Work starts next year on a logistics platform to be called San Pedro Logistique.

Part of the capital cost will be financed by Port of Antwerp International (PAI), the consultancy and investment subsidiary of Antwerp Port Authority. Active in West Africa for many years, this marks PAI’s first financial investment in the region.

Collaboration since 2011

A collaboration agreement between the ports of San Pedro and Antwerp dates back to 2011. Since then the freight volume handled by San Pedro has expanded to 4.9 million tons annually, a master plan for development of the port has been drawn up, logistics zones developed and mutual promotion carried out.

A new 5-year memorandum of understanding was signed on September 1 by Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx , PAI director Kristof Waterschoot San Pedro Port Authority general manager Hilaire Lamizana.

In addition to supplying the necessary technical expertise for the development, the agreement also specifies that APEC, the training centre for the port of Antwerp, will hold two training seminars per year for San Pedro port personnel.

Investment in new West Africa logistics platform

One of the components of the master plan for development of the port of San Pedro is the creation of a logistics platform. The Belgian group Sea-Invest, which already operates in Côte d’Ivoire in the port of Abidjan, will take the lead for this €5.5 million project with construction due to start early next year and the platform expected to be operational around the summer period of next year.

Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx said the investment underlines the port’s belief in San Pedro’s potential thanks to its geographical location and connections with Liberia, Guinea and Mali.



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Marseille Fos rail pilot halves Israel-northern Europe fresh food transit time

Leading French port Marseille Fos has launched operations under a European Union (EU) pilot project to create sea/rail logistics corridors moving perishable goods from the Mediterranean basin to markets in central and northern Europe.

Leading French port Marseille Fos has launched operations under a European Union (EU) pilot project to create sea/rail logistics corridors moving perishable goods from the Mediterranean basin to markets in central and northern Europe.

Co-financed under the EU’s Connecting Europe facility, the Fresh Food Corridors pilot is running for two years until 2018 and also includes links from Slovenia and Italy involving the ports of Koper and Venice.

In each case, the goods are being shipped from Israel by exporter Mehadrin and forwarded by rail in reefer containers equipped with Genset diesel generators.

The French corridor opened on April 12 when Cosco’s Asiatic King arrived from Ashdod for discharge at the Fos 2XL Seayard container terminal, organised by forwarder Lvanto. Following cargo sanitary inspection, the first train – operated by Eurorail – left on April 13 with 34 containers bound for Rotterdam.

Including the scheduled 36-hour rail leg, the service will halve transit time from Israel to Rotterdam via Fos to just seven days – extending the shelf life of the goods by a week. As well as reducing forwarding times, the Fresh Food initiative aims to cut transport costs, CO2 emissions and road congestion.

The project builds on EU strategy to develop Motorways of the Sea and multimodal cooperation among member states.

The Marseille Fos port authority said the pilot scheme would further demonstrate the port’s position as a competitive, fast and reliable Mediterranean gateway option for Europe-wide markets – in line with its 2014-2018 strategic plan to base enhanced multimodal performance on expanded rail connections.

Meet the Port of Marseille Fos (C30) in Medfel in Perpignan from April 26-28, 2016

Source: Marseille Fos rail pilot halves Israel-northern Europe fresh food transit time


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Linking the Mediterranean with Northern America

In February 2015, the Grimaldi Group shipping company launched a new direct maritime service between Civitavecchia and the North American Ports of Baltimore and Halifax for the transport of cars and other rolling cargo.

The Grimaldi Group shipping company began 2015 with big news: as of February it launched a new direct maritime service between Civitavecchia and the North American Ports of Baltimore and Halifax for the transport of cars and other rolling cargo. The new link is the first direct and regular service between the Mediterranean and North America for the ro-ro carrier sector.

And in Jamuary, Grimaldi had also strengthened the connection between Savona and Barcelona that has become a daily service thanks to deployment of the M/V Ro/Pax “Florencia” that has been added to the 4 “Eurocargo” units which already serve the line.

From 6th July, Grimaldi will launch a new standard service between Brindisi, Igoumenitsa and Corfu adding to the service already offered throughout the year between Brindisi, Igoumenitsa and Patras.

In February, Grimaldi Group improved the Brindisi-Greece service thanks to the employment of the M/V Euroferry Olympia and Euroferry Egnazia, able to carry up to 3,200 lm and with a cargo capacity of 200 ro-ro units and 600 passengers. The Ravenna–Greece direct link joined the already operational transhipment connection, thus increasing the number of departures from Ravenna to Igoumenitsa and Patras to 5 a week.

Due to changes in the market, the Grimaldi Group has also decided to meet demand from the market by modifying the previous Rostock-Helsinki itinerary and introducing the harbour of Hanko to the line. Indeed, as of January, there are now 2 connections from Rostock to Hanko and vice versa and 2 connections from Rostock to Helsinki and vice versa.

In order to face the big challenges of 2015, Finnlines, the company serving the Baltic market and of the Grimaldi Group, has decided to invest in eco-friendly technologies on which it is spending about €65 million. Grimaldi Group is a leader in the maritime transport of cars and all ro-ro vehicles with one of the biggest fleets in the world of roro/multipurpose vessels and car carriers.

The fleet today consists of more than 100 vessels. The vessels are ro-ro/multipurpose, Pure Car and Truck Carrier, Cruise Ferry and High Speed Ferries. The current maritime connections operated by the group serve more than 120 ports in 47 countries in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Western Africa, North and South America.

Nowadays the Motorways of the Sea Network in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas alone is made up of 100 maritime lines operated by Grimaldi, Minoan, Finnlines and Malta Motorways of the Sea for the transport of cars, trailers, trucks and passengers.