The Drewry Container Port Throughput Indices are a series of volume growth/decline indices based on monthly throughput data for a sample of over 235 ports worldwide, representing over 75% of global volumes. The base point for the indices is January 2012 = 100.

Drewry’s latest assessment - July 2021

The Drewry Port Throughput Index rose to 141.3 points in May 2021, an increase of 3.3 points over April, which was very nearly enough to restore it to March’s reading. Annual growth of 15.8% for the month confirms that the worldwide volume recovery is showing no signs of slowing down. Container throughput is expected to increase further through the 3Q21 peak season, after which we anticipate a modest seasonal slowdown in the final quarter. Growth forecasts remain highly sensitive to Covid-19 developments.

Greater China ports index recorded a 9.8% year-on-year increase in May with growth mostly concentrated at the largest Chinese gateways. The top six ports (Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Qingdao, Tianjin, Xiamen) accounted for close to 90% of the volume growth, representing more than 65% of total throughput of the region. We expect China’s throughput growth in full-year 2021 to be the highest in 10 years.

The May throughput index for Asia (ex-China) increased by only 1.4% month-on-month to 134.6 points, but the annual comparison returned an impressive increase of 15.8% with the top three regional hubs (Singapore, Port Kelang, and Busan) witnessing double-digit annual growth. In percentage terms, Port Kelang recorded the highest growth of 33% while in absolute terms, Singapore topped the list by handling 3.2 mteu, an increase of 410,183 teu over April 2021.

The Middle East and South Asia index declined by 0.7% monthly in May, but increased by 16.9% year-on-year. More than 65% of the annual increase in throughput came from the top three ports of the region (Dubai, Mundra and JNPT), together accounting for close to half of the total regional throughput. Mundra and JNPT registered extraordinary annual growth of 62% and 65% in May.

North American ports performed strongly in May and the region index reached a record high of 171.0 points in the month. Collectively, ports in the region scored growth of more than 40% annually and 9% monthly. The top three ports – Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York – reported 44.4%, 74.0% and 48.2% year-on-year gains in May, respectively. Between them these three ports handled an additional 1 mteu compared to May 2020. Los Angeles surpassed the 1 mteu monthly mark for the first time in its history. However, rapid demand growth has come at a cost as the region has been struggling with severe congestion since the end of 2020, with vessel queues at almost all major gateway ports.

The European Port Throughput index remained unchanged at 122.3 points. While the 16.9% year-on-year improvement indicates reasonably stong demand recovery in the market, it was still lower than the pre-pandemic high of 126.7 points recorded in May 2019.

The Latin American index also performed strongly, witnessing a 4.7% monthly and 17.8% annual increase in May. The regional index reached 128.6, the highest since the inception of the Drewry Container port throughput Index. The Brazilian market is growing, with volumes at Santos up by 24% year-on-year in May. Panama hub Balboa also performed strongly, recording 32% year-on-year growth as it has been able to win back share from the neighboring Rodman port.

Oceania’s index returned to the March 2021 level after dipping in April and recorded a 4.6% monthly and 16.8% annual increase. Two major Australian hubs (Melbourne and Sydney) witnessed a record annual increase of 28% and 16%, respectively in May. The Africa index was down by 4.9% in May 2021 against an increase of 29.4% over the same period in 2020. However, we advise caution when considering the Africa index as it is based on a small sample size.

* Based on a relatively small sample, and should be viewed with caution

# All index figures for May 2021 are preliminary, subject to change next month