Reefer container throughput in main European ports.

In 2021, Europe’s leading ports were back to pre-pandemic levels of cargo and container throughput.

After pandemic-related declines during the past years, Europe’s leading ports recorded increases in cargo and container throughput in 2021. [1]


Port of Rotterdam

Rotterdam is the largest container port in Europe, with container terminals allowing for about 18,500 reefer connections. [2] In 2021, the number of containers increased by 6.6% to 15.3 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) compared with 2020, resulting from higher spending on goods during the pandemic. [1] Reefer containers represent about 15% of container types. [3] LNG drove growth as higher gas prices in Europe led to higher LNG imports.


Port of Antwerp

The Port of Antwerp is Europe's second-largest container hub, offering 8,500 reefer plugs in container terminals. The total number of reefer containers handled in the port of Antwerp increased by 2.7% in 2021 compared to 2020. The 1 million TEU mark of operational reefer containers has been passed for the second year in a row. The growth was mainly driven by a 6% increase in export volumes. Indeed, about 60% of the containers handled in the Port of Antwerp are destined for export. The share of reefer container volumes (in TEUs) is 8.2% of the total container traffic in the port. [4]

In the first quarter of 2022, however, container traffic saw a fall of 11.6% in TEU compared to the same period last year. [5]


Port of Hamburg

Hamburg is the third largest container port in Europe. In 2021, the Port of Hamburg showed a clear recovery with a container throughput at 8.7 million TEU (+2.2% vs. 2020, -6.5% vs. 2019 at 9.3 million TEU). [1]


In 2022, the throughput in major European ports is affected by many factors including the ongoing war in Ukraine and labour shortage. [1]




[1] European Logistics: From one crisis to the next.


[3] Port of Rotterdam. Containers.

[4] Cold Chain segment hits 1 million TEU mark for second year in a row.

[5] Port of Antwerp's quarterly figures confirm importance of merger and extra container capacity.