PORT of Melbourne saw a modest increase in total container throughput in September, with empties the main driver behind the increase, according to the latest stakeholder update from the port.

Melbourne saw a total container throughput of 265,462 TEU last month, an increase of 2.2% on the same month last year.

The port reported that full container overseas imports decreased 3.5% on September 2020. Imports of domestic appliances, furniture and textiles were all down on last year’s volumes.

Full overseas container exports decreased 5.6% on September 2020.  Exports of fresh fruit and hay, chaff and fodder were all below comparable September 2020 volumes.

Empty container movements were the big mover of the month. Empty throughput increased 27.4% on September 2020.

Full container trade between Melbourne and Tasmania, excluding transhipments, was up 0.3% on September 2020 to total 18,649 TEU.

In the port’s stakeholder update, CEO Brendan Bourke wrote that market demand globally remains strong with shipping congestion in Asia and Oceania ports continuing to place pressure on capacity and vessel schedules, resulting in port omissions and rotations.

“Throughout September shipping lines continued to inform on necessary port omissions across several Australian ports in an attempt to recover time in their schedules, with the local port freight supply chain continuing to adapt with no reports of significant disruptions or freight movement challenges,” he wrote.

“Increasing COVID-19 cases within Melbourne resulted in reduced labour availability within container terminals during late September and early October. It is anticipated that reduced isolation periods for fully vaccinated primary close contacts of positive cases will help restore greater levels of terminal labour supply and therefore terminal operational capacity.”