Road freight transport by type of goods
Data extracted in December 2019.
Planned article update: November 2020.
Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products was the group of goods which was mostly transported by road in the EU in 2018 in tonnes.
The transport by road of dangerous goods in the EU decreased by 3.9 % in 2018.
This article presents road freight transport in the European Union (EU) regarding the commodities carried. It presents total, national and international transport performed according to the type of goods carried. It also gives complete information for the transport of dangerous goods. Finally, road freight transport by type of cargo is also presented.
This article, together with the articles 'Road freight transport by vehicle characteristics', 'Road freight transport by journey characteristics' and 'Road freight transport statistics' present a complete overview of road freight transport in Europe.
Road freight transport by type of goods
In terms of tonnes transported in 2018, the group of ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’, the main volume of which is building materials, had the highest share of 24.6 %, followed by ‘other non-metallic mineral products’ (11.9 %), also goods used in construction, and ‘basic metals, fabricated metals products (4.0 %) as well as ‘wood and product of wood and cork’ (3.9 %) (see Figure 1 and Table 1).
If distances over which the transport of goods takes place are calculated, the group 03 ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ recorded the largest share (7.9 % of tonne-kilometres), followed by ‘other non-metallic mineral products’ (7.8 % of tonne-kilometres) and ‘basic metals, fabricated metal products’ (6.7 % of tonne-kilometres). Figure 2 shows the share of each NST 2007 group in EU total, national and international road freight transport. It shows that group 2 'coal and lignite', group 3 ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’, group 7 ‘coke and refined petroleum products’, group 9 ‘other non-metallic mineral products’ and group 17 'goods moved in the course of household and office removals' had higher shares in national than in international transport. The groups with more international than national transport were group 5 'textiles and textile products', group 6 'wood and products of wood and cork', group 10 ‘basic metals, fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment’, group 12 'transport equipment', group 13 'furniture, other manufactured goods n.e.c.', group 16 ‘equipment and material utilized in the transport of goods’, group 19 'unidentifiable goods' and group 20 ‘other goods’.
Road freight transport of dangerous goods
Figure 3 shows the share of dangerous goods in the total transport of each country in 2018. For most countries, the share of dangerous goods transport was around 4 %. All major economies recorded figures in the 3 % to 6 % range; only Poland, the second largest transport industry in Europe, had a lower share (2.3 %). Cyprus had a substantially greater proportion by 16.4 %, followed by Finland (6.9 %). The countries with the lowest share of dangerous goods were Slovakia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Portugal, with a share ranging between 1 % and 2 %.
After a continuous increase over 4 years, the transport of dangerous goods in the EU decreased from 83 billion tonne-kilometres in 2017 to 79 billion tonne-kilometres in 2018. Between 2014 and 2018, most Member States registered increase in transport of dangerous goods. The highest increase was recorded in Belgium (77.3 %), Slovenia (46.7 %), Croatia (42.3 %) and Finland (36.7 %). The largest decreases in the transport of dangerous goods were registered in Ireland (71.3 %), Bulgaria (41.5 %), Portugal (29.7 %) and Poland (15.9 %).
Figure 4 shows the share of dangerous goods transported within a country and internationally in 2018. In half of the reporting countries, more than two thirds of the transport of dangerous goods was performed within the national territory. For most countries, the share of dangerous goods carried in international transport is linked to the share of international transport of all types of goods. Exceptions are Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Poland: the international transport represents more than half of the transport in these countries, but most of their transport of dangerous goods is performed on national territory.
Figure 5 shows the types of dangerous goods in EU road freight transport in 2018. The largest specific product group was ‘flammable liquids’, taking over more than half of the total (52.9 %). Two other groups, ‘gases (compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure)’ and ‘corrosives’, accounted for 14.1 % and 12.1 % respectively. There were very small changes compared to previous years, the distribution between product groups remained quite similar over time.
As dangerous goods represent a small share of all the goods transported by road, there are considerable uncertainties in the surveys’ results on this type of goods.
Road freight transport by type of cargo
The countries with the highest share of palletised goods transported were Slovenia (61.4 %), Portugal (60.6 %) and Croatia (59.6 %), while Belgium (27.2 %), Finland (30.3 %) and Austria (31.3 %) were the countries with the lowest share.
When regrouping palletised goods and solid bulk, the two countries with a share below 50 % in 2018 were Lithuania (39.0 %) and Finland (46.0 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
Bulgaria and Romania: While Bulgaria and Romania had no obligation prior to accession in 2007, they started reporting data for the reference year 2006.
Croatia: While Croatia had no obligation prior to accession in 2013, it started to report data for the reference year 2008.
Malta: Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 does not apply to Malta, so long as the number of Maltese-registered goods road transport vehicles licensed to engage in international transport does not exceed 400 vehicles.
Finland: National and international surveys have been harmonised and follow a common methodology from Q1 2011 onwards, leading to a break in time series in 2011.
Sweden: A break in series was produced in 2014 following a change in methodology. On the basis of a specific survey, Sweden corrected the European road freight survey results for trucks participating to the sample which were not in use over the surveyed period.
EU totals calculated in this publication refer to road freight transport reported by the EU Member States excluding Malta which is currently exempted from reporting road freight statistics, and Luxembourg for which data is not available for 2018.
Breakdown by goods groups
Starting with the reference year 2008, Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 amends Council Regulation (EC) No 1172/98 and establishes NST 2007 as the sole classification for goods carried in road freight transport. Germany still collects data according to NST/R but reclassifies them according to NST 2007 before the submission to Eurostat. For detailed information on the NST 2007 classification, please refer to ‘Ramon’, Eurostat’s Metadata Server).
Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 stipulates the collection of information on different categories of dangerous goods on an obligatory basis. Annex V of the Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 provides the categories to be used. As the carriage of dangerous goods by road represents only a small percentage of total road transport and the data are collected on the basis of sample surveys, the margins of error in any statistics will be substantial. Any figures for the transport of dangerous goods should be treated with caution.
Type of cargo is the appearance of the cargo unit on presentation for transportation. The provision of data according to the type of cargo is optional in the legal basis.
Tonne-kilometre (tkm): Unit of measure of goods transport that represents the transport of one tonne by road over one kilometre. The distance taken into account is the distance actually run. It excludes the distance covered when the goods road vehicle is being transported by another means of transport.
Data availability: The figures presented in this publication have been extracted from Eurostat’s free dissemination database and reflect the state of data availability on 15/12/2019.
In this article:
- 1 billion = 1 000 000 000
- "- "not applicable
- ": "not available
- "c" confidential
Data presented in this publication were collected in the framework of Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (recast). These data are based on sample surveys carried out in the reporting countries, i.e. EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, and record the road goods transport undertaken by vehicles registered in these countries.
Reporting countries use their own national surveys for the collection of data based on returns from road hauliers. The results are microdata referring to vehicles and their linked journeys providing detailed information on goods transported. At the European level, common aggregation procedures have been used that might diverge from national practices. Therefore differences might occur between the figures in this publication and national values.
- Transport, see:
- Road transport (t_road)
- Transport, see:
- Road transport (road)
- Road freight transport measurement (road_go)
- Energy, transport and environment statistics - 2019 edition - Statistical book
- Glossary for transport statistics - 5th edition - 2019 - Manuals and guidelines
- Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries - Revised, 2017 edition - Manuals and guidelines
- Road freight transport methodology - Revised edition, August 2017 - Manuals and guidelines
- Road freight transport measurement (ESMS metadata file)
- Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 of 18 January 2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (recast)
- Summaries of EU legislation: Rules for the compilation of statistics regarding goods carried by road
- Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 of 7 November 2007 amending Directive 95/64, Regulation (EC) No 1172/98, Regulations (EC) No 91/2003 and (EC) No 1365/2006 with respect to the establishment of NST 2007 as the unique classification for transported goods in certain transport modes