Categories: a-port-information, EuropePublished On: 03.08.2022276 words1.4 min read
National statistics

Port freight annual statistics: 2021

Annual statistics on the UK port freight traffic for 2021.


About this release

This statistical release provides information on trends and patterns in the handling of freight traffic at UK sea ports in terms of cargo (units and tonnage) as well as the route taken.

Overview of port freight statistics

In 2021, a total of 445.5 million tonnes of cargo were handled at all UK ports, a 2% increase on 2020 but remaining 8% lower than 2019, suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have an impact on cargo volumes.

Below is a summary of the main points from the latest port freight trends.

In 2021:

  • both major and minor ports tonnage showed some recovery in 2021, but remain below 2019 levels
  • domestic traffic increased by 9% from 2020, reflecting an increase in one port and coastwise traffic
  • international imports showed some recovery but remain 8% lower than pre pandemic levels, whereas international exports are continuing to decline following the downward trend seen since 2018
  • London handled the most traffic in 2021 of all UK ports, accounting for 12% of all UK traffic, followed closely by Grimsby and Immingham (11%)
  • oil products and accompanied roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) traffic account for the majority of the decline in tonnage since 2017
  • dry bulk tonnage has increased, likely driven by biomass (organic material used as a renewable energy source) and aggregates (sand and gravel used for construction)