Ocean Cargo: Weak rate structure for carriers to persist, say analysts

The container shipping industry is in dire need of a correction on the supply side, said analysts for Drewry Maritime Research in London this week

By Patrick Burnson · July 7, 2011

The container shipping industry is in dire need of a correction on the supply side, said analysts for Drewry Maritime Research in London this week.

Analysts add that even the realization of a decent peak season demand surge this summer will not provide enough momentum to lift severely eroded freight rates in the key east-west trades.??

“Contrary to what happened in 2009, there is currently no common strategy or discipline among carriers to lay up ships to redress the supply/demand balance,”?said Neil Dekker, editor of Drewry’s Container Forecaster.

He said ocean carriers will find it a very challenging environment this year in which to make money, but there is a major difference between this year and the recession-ravaged 2009.

Other analysts have told LM that container rates have been sliding on all the major trading lanes since July 2010, with the exception of a small “hiccough” in last winter, as liner companies tried to push for implementation of general rates increases in a weakening market.

“The anticipated strong volume rebound following the Chinese Lunar New Year did not materialize, and that resulted in continued descending rates on most trading lanes,” said Peter Sand, an analyst with the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) in Copenhagen.

Drewry is forecasting an 8.1 percent growth in global container traffic for 2011 and so, other than rising fuel costs, responsibility for the inability to run their business models profitably can only be laid at the feet of the carriers themselves, analysts contend.

Drewry noted that ocean carriers have continued to launch new services in the key east-west trade lanes, many of them also upgraded with the latest 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) giants delivered from South Korean yards.  But this has severely contributed to overcapacity with average load factors in the headhaul transpacific and Asia to Europe routes remaining at only 80-85 percent.??

In this environment, said analysts, freight rates have massively declined on the Asia to North Europe route where in some cases spot rates are not even covering quoted bunker surcharges of around $750 per teu.

Planned rate restoration programs have been postponed and there is little hope of carriers imposing meaningful peak season surcharges, Drewry analysts added.

For related articles click here.


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