Seaborne cargo throughput in Germany’s largest universal port in the first three quarters of 2013 totalled 103.9 million tons (+ 6 percent). The July-September trend, especially, ensured a brilliant throughput total: in the third quarter 35.8 million tons crossed Hamburg’s quay walls, giving the Port of Hamburg a throughput gain of 11.1 percent. After advances in the first quarter of 0.6 percent and of 6.3 percent in the second, the continuous upward trend in its cargo throughput was therefore more than maintained.

Compared to the ports of Northern Europe, reporting a slight 0.7 percent average growth in total cargo throughput and a downturn of 1.0 percent in container handling for the first nine months, the Port of Hamburg put in an above-average performance and further extended its position on the market.

In the bulk cargo category, Hamburg’s universal port handled altogether 31.4 million tons (+ 8.9 percent). With throughput totalling 72.5 million tons, general cargo handling achieved an increase of 4.8 percent. Container throughput at around 7 million TEU (20-ft standard containers) remained on a growth course with a gain of 3.6 percent.

The container trades mainly responsible were those with the Baltic, where the feeder trades profited from the East Asia trade’s return to growth. In the first nine months of 2013 around 2.9 million TEU of transhipment cargo was handled in Hamburg for large containerships and feeders. That represents growth of around 10 percent and a 42 percent share of all container throughput.

Exports Grow More Strongly Than Imports

On seaborne cargoes, in the first nine months exports with a gain of 7.2 percent to 45.8 million tons clearly outpaced the import side, with growth of 5 percent at 58.1 million tons. On container handling as well, the export side totalling 3.3 million TEU (+ 3.8 percent) produced a faster advance than imports, which at 3.6 million TEU were up by 3.3 percent. Both on imports and exports, the trend on handling of loaded containers was in general very good: the total of 6.0 million TEU represented a 4.0 percent increase. Evident in Hamburg for the last two years, the downturn in throughput of empty containers has also been halted. In the first three quarters of the year, 938,000 TEU (+ 0.7 percent) were handled, representing 13.5 percent of all containers.

Higher General and Bulk Cargo Volumes in the Port of Hamburg

At 72.5 million tons, general cargo throughput in Germany‘s largest universal port was up by 4.8 percent. The bulk cargo segment was able to report growth of no less than 8.9 percent to 31.4 million tons. “Hamburg further extended its position as Northern Europe’s Hub Port, and we are gratified that both general cargo and bulk cargo handling should have contributed to the excellent performance in the first three quarters of 2013. All three bulk cargo segments reported positive throughput figures for the first nine months,” said a delighted Axel Mattern, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s CEO. At 5.9 million tons, throughput of suction cargoes that include grain, oil fruits and feedstuffs, was up by 30.9 percent, in percentage terms the strongest growth. The grab cargo segment, mainly comprising ores, coal, coke and fertilizers, reached 14.5 million tons, up by 2.1 percent. With crude oil and oil products the main cargoes, the liquid cargo segment achieved 8.6 percent growth at 11.1 million tons. In the first nine months of 2013, bulk goods handling therefore contributed around 44 percent of the growth in all seaborne cargo handling in the Port of Hamburg. “Both oil imports and grain exports, especially, brought us very strong growth,” was Mattern’s explanation for the positive throughput total for the first nine months.

Port Railway Continues on its Record Course

Harald Kreft, Head of the Port Railway, presented its figures during the quarterly press briefing. This division of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) was able to continue on its record course: Compared to the same period in 2012, during the last nine months goods traffic increased by 4.3 percent, container traffic by 5.5 percent. From January to September this year approximately 30.9 million tons of goods and 1.6 million standard containers (TEU) rolled over the Port Railway tracks. “I am very pleased that Hamburg’s Port Railway has again succeeded in increasing its result. The enormous handling quantities in the port demand real organizational talent. We shall continue working on that into the future.“

Positive Expectations for 2013 as a Whole

On the basis of the current trend in the Port of Hamburg, provided this remains stable, for the year 2013 as a whole Axel Mattern anticipates seaborne cargo throughput of up to 138.5 million tons. That would correspond to an almost 6 percent increase on the previous year. In his view, up to 9.3 million TEU could be handled in the container trade, making 4 percent growth a possibility for this year.