Rising Volumes and Worsening Congestion at Europe’s Freight Hubs

Source: JOC
Date: 29th March 2022

Import volume from China has been increasing since late last year, and combined with the severely disrupted supply chains is leading to a deteriorating cargo storage situation across Europe.

Import volumes in Europe are climbing as importers place bigger orders to build up buffer stock against lead time delays and market uncertainty. In the month of January, China-Europe volumes saw a year-over-year increase of 3.1% which was preceded by a 11% growth in the last quarter of 2021, said Container Trade Statistics (CTS). The increased volumes have led to a shortage of capacity in container yards and warehouses.

The increase in demand and ongoing congestion across North Europe hubs is paired with low schedule reliability. Sea-Intelligence reported that on the Asia-North Europe route, vessel on-time performance dropped to 15% in February. Month-over-month, it decreased by -2.6 percentage points and year-over-year, a -12 percentage-point decline was recorded.

Raw material shortages, longer production lead times and longer transit times of an extra 15 to 30 days compared to pre-pandemic have led to higher order volumes by importers, a global forwarder in Europe said. The increased volumes have in turn filled up warehouses. “U.K., Germany, Netherlands, and France are hit the most. There is practically no free warehouse space available anymore and containers are still coming,” the forwarder added.

Meanwhile, data from the visibility providers shows transshipment dwell times in Europe increased and were now 36% higher than in mid-February. Around 10,000 TEU of Russian containers are estimated to be stuck in terminals or inland container stations in North Europe hubs, using space needed for import cargo.

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