The most important goods categories at Hamburg were mineral oil products, gases, coal and agricultural and forestry products. The latter showed the highest rate of growth last year, followed by chemical products, fertilisers and finished and semi-finished goods, which are generally carried by container.
Container consignments are increasingly being handled by inland waterway vessels at Hamburg, making use of the numerous inland ports along the Elbe and the north German canal network. Container shipments are also increasingly being carried between the various terminals in the port by inland waterway vessel.
If in the summer months low water levels on the middle and upper Elbe hinder inland waterway shipping, lorry transport steps in as a substitute. In September 2008, for example, the Elbe at Magdeburg was lower than 70 cm in places due to a failure to carry out necessary maintenance measures.