NAPIER Port saw bulk trade volumes increase by nearly 62% and container volumes increase by 8.3% over the third quarter of the New Zealand 2021 financial year.

The port said the colossal increase in bulk volumes were driven by increased log exports, and the container volume increase was driven by wood pulp, timber and empty containers.

Napier Port chief executive Todd Dawson said, “Log export volumes for June 2021 and for the quarter were the highest on record. Strong, sustained offshore demand for New Zealand wood is driving significant growth in the volume of logs exported by our customers”.

Mr Dawson said container volumes were ahead of last year’s COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown affected volumes.

“[This] is also very pleasing given the ongoing disruption to ship calls due to global shipping congestion and adverse weather events.”

Total container volumes for the third quarter of 80,000 TEU increased 8.3% from 74,000 TEU in the same period a year ago, due to increased volumes of wood pulp and timber exported and empty containers that were repositioned to Napier Port later than the prior year.

For the nine months to June, total container volumes of 215,000 TEU increased 2.8% from 210,000 TEU in the prior period. Full container volumes increased 0.9%, and empty and other container movements increased 5.4%.

Wood pulp and timber exports for the third quarter, which increased by 21.3% on the same period a year ago, have continued to be affected by shipping schedule disruptions and shipping capacity constraints.

The prior comparative period volume was also negatively affected by COVID-19 when non-essential cargo ceased to enter the port during the Alert Level 4 lockdown period from 25 March to 27 April 2020.

Reefer export cargo for the nine months increased 1.4% to 45k TEU. The increase was driven by higher volumes of export meat and other fresh and chilled produce offset by containerised apples which decreased 4.8% to 19,000 TEU.

Container vessel calls for the nine months were down to 191 ships from 223 ships in the same period last year, due to ongoing disruptions to shipping schedules and some days of restricted shipping due to weather events during the third quarter.

Bulk cargo total volume for the third quarter of 1.02 million tonnes was 61.8% higher than the same period a year ago. Log export volumes for the quarter of 820,000 tonnes increased 75.6% due to sustained strong log export market conditions. For the nine-month period to June, log export volumes of 2.24 million tonnes were 36.1% higher than the same period a year ago, and total bulk cargo 29.7% higher.

In the prior year period, bulk cargo volumes were negatively affected by the cessation of forest harvesting during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown period.