Ocean cargo capacity exceeds demand

In the past several weeks, shippers had told LM that the demand for ocean transportation services had been declining, leading them to believe that a “peak season” might not even arrive

By Patrick Burnson · August 3, 2011

Shipper demand for ocean carrier capacity has failed to match the rise in supply during a slack peak season, said industry analysts.

According the Paris-based consultancy, Alphaliner, the active (non-idle) containership capacity has risen by 10 percent over the last twelve months, but the main trade lane’s modest second-quarter capacity utilization levels of below 90 percent are expected to rise only moderately in August. This comes in spite of the recent capacity withdrawals undertaken by some carriers.

In the past several weeks, shippers had told LM that the demand for ocean transportation services had been declining, leading them to believe that a “peak season” might not even arrive.

“The freight rate trends do not suggest that anyone really feels that there will be more container shortages or capacity constraints,” said Peter A. Friedmann, executive director of Agriculture Ocean Transportation Coalition (AgTC).

According to Alphaliner’s market survey, the capacity deployed has increased on all routes over the past twelve months. The recent capacity withdrawals on the Far East-Europe and Far East-North America routes have mostly led to the redeployment of tonnage to secondary trade routes.

“African routes have seen the largest capacity increase (+20 percent) during the twelve-month period, followed by the Transatlantic and Latin American related routes which registered capacity increases of 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively,” said Alphaliner analysts.

The added that despite some capacity withdrawals, the Far East-Europe route is still under pressure from a 12 percent year-on-year increase in supply, with 430,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of vessel capacity added to the trade. The influx of new ships has increased the route capacity by 32,000 TEU per week to now 400,000 TEU per week.

The additional capacity introduced to this trade accounts for one-third of the total increase in active capacity over the period. All container vessels delivered over the last twelve months were deployed to the Far East-Europe trade, despite average utilization levels of only 84 percent in the first half of 2011, based on Alphaliner estimates.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo