The European Road Freight Rate Benchmark for Q3 shows that prices have hit historic highs across Europe, driven by a mix of robust economic growth, global supply chain bottlenecks, rising costs and scarce capacity. Ti and Upply are joined by IRU for the Q3 Benchmark for the first time.
- The Q3 2021 European Road Freight Rate benchmark index stood at 107.6, 3.0 points higher than in Q3 2020
- Q3 2021 is the 5th consecutive quarter of rate increases and a 4% rise from the rates seen in Q2 2020
- French domestic road freight rates continue rising steadily, increasing 3.5% year-on-year in Q3 2021
- Freight rates are expected to rise further in Q4 2021 as demand increases and capacity remains tight
The upwards rate development seen in Q3 2021 marks the fifth consecutive quarter in which the European Benchmark has risen. It also marks a 4% rise in benchmark rates when compared with Q2 2020 when the worst of disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic was felt. The subsequent development in rates has tracked the region-wide reopening and highlights the role of road freight in supporting wider economic growth. The upwards trajectory to the end of Q3 2021 also reflects a period in which congestion, bottlenecks, capacity issues and rising costs have created a potent mix of pressures within the European logistics market.
As retail and manufacturing sectors across Europe have seen demand rise steeply up to the end of Q3 2021, capacity shortages have increasingly become a feature of Europe’s road freight market, especially in the UK where a shortage of qualified HGV drivers has led to empty supermarket shelves and severe congestions at the port of Felixstowe, amongst other challenges. Driver shortages are not limited to the UK, of course. According to IRU driver shortage survey results, in Spain, truck driver shortages could reach 10.2% in 2021, up from 7% in 2020. The current shortage is estimated to be between 40,000-50,000 drivers in France and rises to 65,000 in Germany.
In addition, Europe has seen widespread cost inflation up to the end of Q3 2021. According to data from Ti and IRU diesel prices in Germany are 38.5% higher than Q3 2020, while the UK (+26.6%), Spain (+25.2%), France (+23.5%) and Italy (+20.6%) also saw markedly higher prices.