PORT of Tauranga has reported a drop in cargo volumes for the first quarter of the 2024 financial year.

In the three months to 30 September, total trade was down 9% in volume compared with the same period last year, to 5.8 million tonnes.

Group net profit after tax increased 5.2% on the previous year, to NZ$117.1 million. Total revenue was NZ$420.9 million, an increase of 12.2%.

Port of Tauranga chief executive Leonard Sampson said continued global economic volatility, coastal shipping changes along with an early end to the kiwifruit season and slow start to the dairy export season all contributed to the drop in cargo volumes.

“Softening international commodity pricing and demand has had an impact on some key exports as shippers have hit pause to instead focus on building inventory, or look for alternative international markets,” he said.

Total container volumes in the first three months have decreased 20.9% to just over 250,000 TEU.

Port of Tauranga said a key factor in the reduction in container volumes was due to changes in coastal vessel rotations resulting in containerised transhipment decreasing 31% for the period.

“Containerised imports are down 23% on the previous year reflecting weaker domestic consumption and increased rail costs,” Mr Sampson said.

“However, we expect some recovery due to the usual pre-Christmas boost to imports.

“Our diverse range of cargoes will continue to hold us in good stead as we navigate the challenging economic conditions.”

Port of Tauranga is expecting close to a record number of cruise ship visits in the summer cruise season, with 112 currently booked. This compares with 88 visits last summer and the record of 116 visits pre-covid.

Based on the first quarter’s results, and notwithstanding any significant changes to market conditions, Port of Tauranga expects full-year earnings to be in the range of NZ$95 million to NZ$107 million.