European road freight prices leap as available capacity plummets


Spot prices on Transporeon index jumped by more than 8% in May to a three-year high as available capacity dropped 11.3% to a three-year low as demand continues to recover

European road freight spot prices jumped by more than 8% in May to a three-year high as available capacity plummeted to a three-year low, according to the latest monthly analysis by Transporeon, which attributed the changes largely to signs of economic recovery after the worst effects of the pandemic.

In its latest European Transport Market Monitor (TMM), which tracks price and capacity developments in the European road freight spot market, Transporeon highlighted that the index for road transport capacity on the European spot market «continued its downward slide in May 2021, which has already been ongoing since March», taking the index to «a three-year low». The analysis is based on road transport data of more than 1.8 million freight loads on the spot market per year, with the data last updated on 7 June.

In May 2021, the capacity index fell to 74.7 points, which Transporeon said was 11.3% less than in the previous month. In contrast, it said «an opposite development can be observed for the transport price index which has been rising since March 2021. In May, it peaked at its three-year high of 113.5 points.»

Compared to the previous month, transport prices climbed by 8.4% in May 2021. In relation to the same month of the previous year, the increase amounts to +28.0%.

Meanwhile, Transporeon highlighted that the latest figures indicated that there had been «a further normalisation on the route between France and Great Britain», which had been highly volatile since the end of last year.

It noted: «Transport capacity and prices on the route between France and Great Britain are developing in line with the trends observed on the overall market. Compared to the previous month, transport capacities on the corridor fell significantly — by 25.4%. They now stand at 88.1 index points.»

In May 2021, prices on the corridor between France and Great Britain increased to 136.4 index points. This is 12.9% more than in April and represents an overall increase of +61.7% compared to May 2020, Transporeon noted.

Nikolay Pargov, executive director for freight procurement and audit at Transporeon, commented: «The economic recovery after the pandemic becomes evident when we look on the road transport market. Low transport capacities and rising prices are the result of a good order situation on the part of forwarders.

«At the same time, we are observing a further normalisation on the route between France and Great Britain. The effects of the Brexit are hardly measurable anymore.»

Looking at various key industry verticals, Transporeon highlighted that Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) recorded the most significant price increase compared to the previous month, rising 27.9%. The price index for this sector peaked at 106.9 index points, a three-year high. Compared to the same month in 2020, the price increase was 42.5%. FMCG transport capacity fell by 15% to 99.2 index points in May 2021. This is 37.4% less than in May 2020.

The transport of goods in the chemical and life sciences sectors also recorded a significant price increase. With 87.7 index points, prices in May stood 12.4% higher than in April. Compared to May 2020, the price increase was 16.6%. Transport capacity in this sector, on the other hand, is stable, with a loss of only 1.8% compared to the previous month. It now stands at 87.8 index points. Compared to May 2020, capacity fell by 61.5%.

In the European automotive sector, road transport capacity fell by 13.7% to 75.4 index points in May 2021 compared to the previous month. It now stands 51.6% below the previous year’s level. Prices continue to recover and were 5.5% higher in May compared to April 2021, reaching 104.4 index points. They are thus 35.2% higher than in May 2020.

This is the result of the most recent evaluation of the Transport Market Monitor (TMM). The online service is provided by Transporeon, Europe’s largest logistic platform in Europe. The analysis is based on road transportation data of more than 1.8 million freight loads on the spot market per year. The data was updated on June 7, 2021.

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