THE Port of Napier’s revenue for the half year to 31 March 2021 rose 0.6% to $52.6m from $52.3m in the same period a year ago.

The port’s total container trade of 135,000 TEU was in line with the prior period, while bulk cargo volumes increased 17.1% to 1.87m tonnes.

Bulk cargo revenue increased $4.2m or 26.5%, to $20.2m driven by growth in log export volumes. Log exports increased 20.6% to 1.43m tonnes due to sustained strong log export market conditions.

Napier Port chair Alasdair MacLeod said, “A key strength of Napier Port is the diversity of trades that pass across our wharves.

“In the half year to the end of March 2021, strong growth in bulk exports, and a 20.6% increase in log exports in particular, have offset the absence of cruise ships, which, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, were a welcome source of business for both Napier Port and the region.

“Over the last half year, that diversity was also apparent in our container trade. Volumes were steady at 135,000 TEU, but with changes in mix between trades with higher exports of meat and apples and other container movements offsetting falls in containerised wood pulp and timber and lower import volumes.

Challenges of global shipping instability

Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson said, “The disruption we have seen to global shipping over the last year has presented considerable challenges to Napier Port and our customers.

“Solid log flows across Napier Port have been sustained in response to the strong export market conditions.

“At the same time, congestion – particularly in the upper North Island – has seen 26 container ships miss their scheduled calls.”

Schedule changes and interruptions have resulted in volatile container flows and cargo owners struggling with shipping container equipment and space availability.

“On port, containers have dwelled longer, limiting operational space, while we have seen a 67%, or an 11k TEU, increase in other container movements, including DLRs and transshipments,” Mr Dawson said.

“I am proud of the way the Napier Port team has risen to the challenge. Our people responded with the determination and the can-do attitude that is at the heart of Napier Port’s culture.”

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Future uncertainty

Mr MacLeod said Napier Port would maintain a prudent approach to its balance sheet, considering its existing commitments related to the 6 Wharf construction project and ongoing trade uncertainties.

“Demand for the region’s food and fibre exports remains robust. However, notwithstanding the government’s recent moves to increase the availability of seasonal labour in the future, the impact of worker shortages on seasonal export industries remains uncertain,” he said.

Pipfruit exports are tracking in line with the prior year, but it is not clear what the eventual export crop size for this year will be as a result of the seasonal labour shortages. Similar dynamics are at play across all fresh produce sectors.

“Meanwhile, the continued challenges to container-based supply chains from regional and global shipping disruptions continue to impact on the free flow of cargo,” Mr MacLeod said.

“Napier Port reaffirms the earnings guidance provided in April for the underlying result from operating activities for the year to range between $39m and $42m.

“We intend to provide a further interim update to the NZX market regarding our June quarter trading results during August,” he said.

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