08 September 2023


After record-high volumes transported by sea in 2022, the first half of 2023 saw the shipping container market return to volumes slightly above 2020 levels, the shipping analyst Container Trade Statistics noted in its last report. This represents a decrease of volumes by -3.6% compared to 2022.

This reduction in the volume transported by sea has also affected the ocean freight rates: all ocean carriers have seen their average freight rates drop by between 38% and 69% compared to 2022. The main trade lanes (Asia-Europe and Transpacific) saw their freight rates drop by 50% compared to the first half of 2022. However, some trade lanes have not seen their volumes drop dramatically: intra-Europe and Transatlantic trade lanes succeed to maintain relatively equivalent volumes compared to last year.

Major carriers saw significant reduction of financial turnover after record-hitting years in 2021 and 2022: the reduction in volumes was coupled in with an increase of operational costs, due to the rise of energy prices and the conversion to cleaner but more expensive alternative fuels such as LNG, methanol or ammonia. Carriers now need to make strategic decision between retrofitting their ships in order to use cleaner fuels and ordering newbuilds. However, due to the general trend of slow-steaming, carriers argue that more ships will be needed to serve an equivalent number of ports in the same timeframe.

Source: Ports & Corridors