The European Road Freight Rate Benchmark for Q4 2021 shows that prices ended 2021 at historic highs across Europe, driven by a volatile mix of drivers over the year with supply chain congestion, supply shortages, cost increases and spiking demand from economic reopenings across the region. The potent mix of factors, which pushed the Benchmark to new record highs three times in 2021, shows few signs of unwinding in the immediate term.
- The Q4 2021 European Road Freight Rate benchmark index stood at 108.3, 1.1 points higher than in Q3 2021 and 3.2 points higher than in Q4 2020.
- Q4 2021 is the 6th consecutive quarter of rate increases across Europe
- Rising fuel costs, up around 25% y-o-y in some major European markets, and the ongoing driver shortage have helped push up road freight costs and rates across Europe
- New data from the IRU shows driver 2021 shortages across Europe, including a shortage of up to 100,000 in the UK and over 60,000 in both Germany and Poland.
- Freight rates are expected to remain high in Q1 2022 as demand stays strong, costs high and capacity constrained.
The upwards rate development in Q4 2021 marks the sixth consecutive quarter in which the European Benchmark has risen. This has been driven by both supply and demand side factors.
Breaking down the supply side of the equation, diesel prices, which account for one-third of total operating transport costs, have risen sharply, ending 2021 around 25% higher than at the start of the year in countries across the region including Spain, Germany and France. Driver costs have also risen due to driver shortages. New data from the IRU shows that in 2021 the UK had the most acute driver shortage, with up to 100,000 driver posts unfilled. The data also showed driver shortages of over 60,000 in both Germany and Poland, whilst France had a shortage of up to 31,000. Italy and Spain had smaller shortfalls, but still had up to 20,000 drivers missing each.