Market Update

Market Update June 2024

June 3, 2024
We provide an update on equipment, space and freight rates in our monthly market update. Read more.
Sasha Khan
Marketing Manager
8 Minutes

Ocean Import Updates

Early peak season and container shortage drive up freight rates

The traditional peak shipping season has started early this year, ahead of the usual July-October period, as shippers rush to book slots due to a shortage of vessels and containers.

It has highlighted the impact of the Red Sea crisis and Suez Canal challenges, which have lengthened sailing distances and reduced idle capacity to just 190,000 TEU, or 0.7% of the total fleet. This situation, coupled with higher volumes, has led to a situation reminiscent of the equipment shortages seen during COVID-19.

Ship supply remains very tight, with the Red Sea crisis further straining the supply chain. Ships on major routes are now detouring around the Cape of Good Hope, requiring more vessels to maintain regular schedules. This situation has extended to other routes, causing a surge in freight rates from Asia to Australia, New Zealand, West Africa, South Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia.

North European shippers and freight forwarders are frustrated by rapidly increasing spot freight rates. Drewry’s WCI Shanghai-Rotterdam leg saw a 20% weekly rise, hitting $4,999 per 40ft, with actual slot rates ranging from $6,000 to $7,500.

High demand and limited vessel supply are causing container shortages at key Asian export hubs, affecting secondary trades. Carriers favouring higher-paying spot cargo over contracted volumes are angering customers. Some import managers plan to halt shipments once current bookings are completed.

Port congestion in Asia worsens, with significant delays reported at Shanghai, Singapore, Qingdao, and Ningbo. The eeSea liner database shows numerous ships waiting for berths.

Container shortage in northern China amid strong market and capacity issues

Forwarders report a growing difficulty in securing containers out of northern China. A robust market combined with reduced vessel capacity due to the Red Sea crisis has led to a shortage of ships and containers.  

Disruptions like port omissions and congestion hinder equipment planning. The tight equipment stock, particularly in North China, varies daily based on vessel arrivals and empty container discharges. In Shanghai, almost all carriers lack empties, especially CMA and ANL, with vessel waiting times now between three to 14 days due to congestion. Similar struggles are noted across other Chinese ports including Yantian, Ningbo, Tianjin, and Qingdao.

Carriers have announced blank sailings for June, reducing capacity by 15-20%, which exacerbates week-to-week capacity fluctuations.

Don't let container shortages and port congestion slow you down—partner with us for reliable and efficient freight forwarding services. Our team is equipped to provide tailored solutions for the evolving changes within the logistics industry. We are adept at adapting to market dynamics, recommending proactive measures that ensure your goods stay on the move. Get in touch.

Far East – North Europe: Trade Update

May saw record demand for all Asia trade, with demand surpassing capacity. Carriers as a result are ordering additional equipment to support, however this is yet to make any significant impact to vessel bookings.

Global Demand has grown 9.3% YTD with expectations of 11% and above by the close of Q2, further to this Asia Pacific demand has increased to 14.9% YTD, which has resulted in an average delay of 5-10 days in addition to delays caused by re-routing via the cape of good hope.

There has been a matching 15% network capacity reduction, caused by blank sailings.

Issues across northern Asia include berthing delays, weather uncertainty, lack of available empty equipment and port congestion.

It has been advised cut and run port omission is the leading cause and as a result empties are currently being held in ports where they aren’t needed, such as Colombo. Maersk & MSC have stated they are planning to implement additional services on all TRANSPAC lanes to support capacity requirements.

Lanes affected: CN -> EU/GB & MY -> EU/GB

Global perishable shipments set to rise in 2024

Following a strong southern hemisphere harvest, global perishable shipments are expected to increase this year, according to new research from Drewry. After two years of decline, reefer shipments are projected to grow by 1% across all commodities, driven by a robust citrus export season from South Africa.

Drewry shipping analyst Malcolm Ramsay noted that good growing conditions in South Africa are boosting orange, lemon, and grapefruit exports. Similarly, New Zealand's kiwi exports are expected to improve significantly after a slow start.

Key reefer commodities like meat and bananas have also shown positive growth, with citrus shipments forecasted to rise by 3.6%, exotic fruits by nearly 3%, meat by just under 1%, and bananas by over 0.5%.

Drewry expects continued improvements in exports and declining reefer freight rates to drive a more than 1% increase in global seaborne reefer volumes in 2024.

Overall, the outlook for global perishable shipments is positive, with increased exports and improved growing conditions driving growth.

With the outlook for global perishable shipments being so positive, now is the perfect time to optimise your shipping strategy. Contact us today to discover how our expert team can help you navigate the complexities of reefer shipping, ensuring your perishables reach their destinations efficiently and cost-effectively.

Francis Scott Key Bridge Updates

MV Dali refloated, with services set to resume

The MV Dali, a container ship that blocked the port of Baltimore for nearly two months, is being refloated today. The ship collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge on the March 26, halting vessel transits.

Temporary channels allowed limited vessel movement, but many large containerships remained stuck.

Preparations to refloat the 9,000 TEU MV Dali began recently - the vessel was escorted by five tugboats to a local marine terminal, a process that took approximately 21 hours.

Maersk has reopened bookings for its AGAS and AMEX services, which can use the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel. AGAS services the US East Coast to South America, with a call expected on June 11. AMEX operates between the US East Coast and South Africa, expected to call on June 1. Bookings for other services, like Transatlantic and TP12, remain closed pending further information on channel conditions.

Despite the positive development, seafarers on board the MV Dali have been stuck without communication due to visa restrictions. Maersk plans to reopen additional bookings once the port is fully operational. If delays continue, vessels may be redirected to other US East Coast ports.


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