Executive Briefings

Five Global Shipping Trends to Watch This Year

Overall, 2017 was a good year for the ocean shipping industry. Operating margins for most carriers improved, driven by robust demand, positive inventory developments and higher rate levels.

Will the positive recovery continue? Or will the vicious cycle we’ve experienced since 2008 continue, where carriers are truly profitable for only three to four years at a time?

Industry watchers remember all too well the chaos of the Hanjin bankruptcy in 2016 and the aftermath: fully loaded ships in limbo and supply chains in disarray. With this as backdrop, carrier activities remain high on the list of trends to watch and consider in 2018. Let’s look at five global carrier trends we will see this year.

Carrier consolidation

Most people think carrier consolidation reached its peak in 2017, but consolidations will likely continue. A few carriers are rumored to be heavy targets of consolidation. When analyzing their capacity and order books, it seems likely we’ll see some activity in late 2018. Also, several carriers who remain outside of the broader alliances are likely to evaluate their service strings and loading factors, then slot charter agreements and work with other carriers to keep up with what’s happening in the market.

Carrier alliances

It’s very likely the alliances we know today (2M+HMM, The Alliance, Ocean Alliance) will change. As carrier consolidations occur in 2018, one carrier could easily make a move on a carrier in another alliance, which would alter the entire alliance landscape. Similar shakeups impacted the market in 2015. Back then, the G6 alliance had six different cargo interests on one vessel, all of which may have had varying terminal and intermodal interests.

When it was time for intermodal moves, the rail lines had to deal with six different shipping lines. The carrier alliances further complicated train loading priorities given their various interests. Worse, alliance members operated multiple terminal interests within a port, so containers discharging from a single ship and the chassis may have had to be returned to different terminals.

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Will the positive recovery continue? Or will the vicious cycle we’ve experienced since 2008 continue, where carriers are truly profitable for only three to four years at a time?

Industry watchers remember all too well the chaos of the Hanjin bankruptcy in 2016 and the aftermath: fully loaded ships in limbo and supply chains in disarray. With this as backdrop, carrier activities remain high on the list of trends to watch and consider in 2018. Let’s look at five global carrier trends we will see this year.

Carrier consolidation

Most people think carrier consolidation reached its peak in 2017, but consolidations will likely continue. A few carriers are rumored to be heavy targets of consolidation. When analyzing their capacity and order books, it seems likely we’ll see some activity in late 2018. Also, several carriers who remain outside of the broader alliances are likely to evaluate their service strings and loading factors, then slot charter agreements and work with other carriers to keep up with what’s happening in the market.

Carrier alliances

It’s very likely the alliances we know today (2M+HMM, The Alliance, Ocean Alliance) will change. As carrier consolidations occur in 2018, one carrier could easily make a move on a carrier in another alliance, which would alter the entire alliance landscape. Similar shakeups impacted the market in 2015. Back then, the G6 alliance had six different cargo interests on one vessel, all of which may have had varying terminal and intermodal interests.

When it was time for intermodal moves, the rail lines had to deal with six different shipping lines. The carrier alliances further complicated train loading priorities given their various interests. Worse, alliance members operated multiple terminal interests within a port, so containers discharging from a single ship and the chassis may have had to be returned to different terminals.

Read Full Article