MAY was yet another big month for container throughput at the Port of Melbourne, with big gains on the same month last year.

According to the latest trade data from the port, Melbourne saw a total of 288,417 TEU cross the wharves – import and export, full and empty. This is an increase of 28% on the numbers in May 2020.

Full overseas container imports were up 27.7% in the same period. Vehicle parts, clothing, non-electrical machinery and textiles saw the largest month-on-month variances.

A statement from the port said this continued strong trade reflects recent trends and also the weak volumes in May 2020 when weather along the east coast of Australia and COVID-19 impacted volumes and services ex-Asia.

Full overseas container exports were up 10% on May 2020 despite the significant decrease in timber, with key commodities increasing including wool, pulp and wastepaper.

Turning to trade with the Apple Isle, full containers, excluding transhipments were up 18% on May 2020 to a total of 18,603 TEU.

It will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to freight in Australia that empty container movements saw big growth. Port of Melbourne reported an increase of 48% on May 2020. Overseas empty exports were up 78.5%, as shipping lines continue to evacuate the surplus empty containers generated by continued strong full overseas imports.

Full transhipments were 58% up on May 2020 and motor vehicle imports up 127.8% (an increase of 16,406 units) on May 2020. The port said this was driven by strong demand for new vehicles, with Victorian sales for May up 65% year on year.

May dry bulk trade increased 19.6% over May 2020 and May liquid bulk trade increased 37.1% over May 2020.

The port said container trade for early June 2021 is tracking at levels consistent with the comparative month in 2020.

The port said global shipping congestion remains an ongoing issue with vessels continuing to call off-window and changing rotation due to delays occurring globally.