The Swedish purchasing power remains low in the wake of economic downturn, resulting in reduced container imports. However, overall container handling in the Port of Gothenburg is increasing as the Swedish export industry continues to thrive, with the forestry sector leading the way. This is according to the Port of Gothenburg’s volume report for the third quarter of 2023.

The total number of handled containers is decreasing both in Sweden and internationally. According to the latest available statistics, the Swedish market has decreased by 4.5%. Other large European ports show an even greater decline, with the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp being two examples, each experiencing a 7% decrease in the first three quarters of the year.

During the same period, the number of handled containers in the Port of Gothenburg increased by 3% overall. Claes Sundmark, Vice President Sales and Marketing at the Gothenburg Port Authority, said, “The international container market paints a clear picture of the situation in a slowing economy. The fact that the Port of Gothenburg is growing in this context is almost unique. Like other ports, we are experiencing a reduced import demand, but here we see a continued high demand in the Swedish export industry that continues to deliver worldwide.”

The export of forest products stands out the most with a continued increase from already high levels. Sundmark continued, “One explanation is the transfer to the Port of Gothenburg from other ports, but the Swedish forestry industry has also strengthened its position in the global market with more applications and increased demand, especially since the Russian forest is practically absent from the world market.”

Approximately 60% of the containers transported to and from the Port of Gothenburg from the hinterland go by rail, a figure that few other international major ports can match. However, the decreased container imports combined with maintenance work on the country’s railway infrastructure have led to a 9% decrease compared to last year’s record levels.

The number of handled new vehicles in the Port of Gothenburg increased by 15% during the first three quarters of the year. Both imports and exports are increasing, and the port maintains its position as Sweden’s largest vehicles port by a good margin.

RoRo, which stands for roll on/roll off, refers to trailers and other rolling cargo transported on ships with frequent liner services within Europe. Intra-European RoRo traffic decreased by 6% during the first three quarters of the year. Like the container segment, import volumes have gone down, but the upturn on the export side has not compensated to the same extent as in the container segment.

Cruise operations in the Port of Gothenburg are heading for another record season with over 80 calls booked. The number of calls increased by four ships during the first three quarters of the year, and the number of passengers continues to grow. 1,253,000 passengers during the period marked an 8% increase.

The handling of conventional dry bulk vessels continues to increase as well. A total of 326,000 tons of dry bulk were handled, representing a 15% increase compared to the same period last year. The increase is primarily driven by the export of forest products and construction materials.

The handling of energy products in the port decreased by 15% compared to the same period last year, primarily due to an unfavorable storage market and investment and maintenance shutdowns at refineries.

Port of Gothenburg throughput, Q1-Q3 2023

Jan-Sept 2023 Jan-Sept 2022 %
Container, TEU 677,000 655,000 3%
Rail, TEU 350,000 385,000 -9%
Ro/ro units 401,000 426,000 -6%
New vehicles 191,000 166,000 15%
Passengers 1,253,000 1,156,000 8%
Cruise calls 73 69 6%
Energy (m.tonnes) 14 16,4 -15%
Dry bulk (tonnes) 326,000 284,000 15%