Volatile Q2 2023 expected in choppy container market

Maresk shipping boxes

Cold chain transportation was a central theme of discussions hosted by Maersk at the 2023 Seafood Expo Global, which ran from 25 to 27 April, in Barcelona, Spain.

The shipping company, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, said its customers were looking for more help with logistics, Maersk said in a press release.

“There are some things we need to tackle in the logistic world," Maersk Sales Manager Borja Pelayo said. "Our assets, strategic way of thinking, and the expertise of our customers and us allows us to combine the pain points from origin to destination and find a solution that actually brings value to our customer, because if the cold chain is not coordinated properly, the solution is not worth anything."

Shipping prices have cratered in recent months, down significantly from the heights they reached at the peak of the Covid pandemic. Despite some evidence the container market is stabilizing, ongoing inflation woes and geopolitical conflicts were cited by a majority of customs brokers and freight forwarders as the central contributors to the current decline in freight volumes, according to the eighth annual Descartes’ benchmark survey.

A separate survey from Container xChange completed in April 2023 found shipping companies more positive about their economic situation. 

"Despite the current oversupply of equipment, freight rates and container prices appear to have stabilized in Asia showing resilience in the intra-Asia trade routes. This could be good news for businesses that rely on container shipping as it means they can anticipate more predictable shipping rates and potentially more stable supply chains," Container xChange CEO and Co-founder Christian Roeloffs said.

Container xChange is predicting an uptick in Q2 2023 performance for the global shipping trade following an expectedrevival in orders leading up to peak season. But there are still plenty of reasons for concern, Roeloffs said.

“The global container logistic ecosystem is like a spider’s web. One disruption does not linearly impact the knot. Instead, every disruption reverberates across the web – sometimes in unexpected directions. The increase in Fed rates, the banking sector crisis, the strikes might seem concentrated in one region, but they have their impact across all trade lanes,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Asim Ali Malik/Shutterstock

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