PORT of Tauranga, New Zealand’s largest port, has reported group net profit after tax of $90m on 24.8m tonnes of trade.

Despite the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, container volumes increased 1.5% to 1,251,741 TEU for the year ended 30 June 2020.

Annual revenue of $302m was down on 2019’s result of $313.3m. Trade was also down to 24.8m tonnes from 26.9m in 2019.

The port did however reduce overall carbon emissions by 15.3%. It also claims to remain Australasia’s most productive container terminal with average net crane rate for the year increasing 8.8% to 35.8 moves per hour.

Port of Tauranga’s chair, David Pilkington, says the results reflect the turbulent year and are a strong performance in view of an almost 22% reduction in log exports.

“Some of our customers saw record export volumes, while others were unable to operate during the lockdown,” he said.

“Port of Tauranga is New Zealand’s major international hub port so it is not surprising that we have seen the effects of the global upheaval.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a wide-ranging impact on the business, including shipping cancellations, reduced cargo volumes, operational challenges and increased costs, and the resulting economic recession in New Zealand and the world.

“We are better positioned than most, due to our track record of strong capital discipline, our conservative balance sheet and capacity headroom,” Mr Pilkington said.

“Our diversity of cargo gives us some resilience in terms of revenue, while the strength of our people and processes has really shone through in keeping New Zealand’s most efficient port operating.”

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Mr Pilkington believes shippers will increasingly seek out the lowest carbon supply chain, which they can access through the bigger ship services calling only at Tauranga. Larger vessels of 7,500 to 9,500 TEU have a carbon footprint more than 31% lower than the average size vessels calling in New Zealand previously.

“We are the only New Zealand port able to offer the efficient, short transit time services that these larger vessels bring,” Mr Pilkington said.

Chief executive Mark Cairns says the short and medium-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still uncertain.

“We expect cargo volumes to slowly recover over the next three years, with dairy product and kiwifruit exports likely to be the strongest performers in terms of growth.

 “We are still confident of growth over the long-term and, given the lead time required for any investment, we continue to pursue capacity expansion,” he said.

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