According to Container Trade Statistics (CTS), global container freight demand was 15.2m TEU in June 2021, bringing the year-to-date volume to 88.7m TEU. In comparison with June 2020, the year-to-date figure has risen by 13.5%.
Naturally, comparisons with 2020 provide an exaggerated view due to the effects of the pandemic. When compared with 2019 data, the year-to-date volumes have increased by just 6%.
Data shows that US consumers are leading the way on container freight demand, with the rest of the world seeing only moderate growth. While demand has surged on both the North America and Europe trades, a comparison with 2019 data shows that the Asia to North America trade has seen the most growth with an increase of 30%. The Asia to Europe trade, on the other hand, is flat, having risen by only 0.7%.
In terms of freight rates, CTS’s Global Price Index rose 14 points in June to 146, setting a record high. This is reflective of the ongoing strains on global supply chains.
This rise in rates cannot only be attributed to rising demand. While consumers have switched consumption away from services and instead into goods in the US, this has not been the case in Europe where demand growth has been muted.
Meanwhile, North America export volumes have fallen by 9% to 7.5m TEU. Likewise, major backhaul routes to the Far East and to Europe are down by approximately 10.5%. While exports equaled imports pre-pandemic, they have now fallen to 37%.
This fall can be attributed, in some part, to higher rates pushing out lower value export volumes.
Both US exporters and European backhaul shippers have seen sharp rate increases, with the increase on the European backhaul higher than that for US exporters and having been ongoing for a longer period of time. Were rates being driven only by volumes, Europe should have seen a much sharper fall.
Some have suggested that, because European exporters have already experienced a cycle of increases in 2017, they have adapted to better be able to operate even in the case of higher rates.
Did you know you can 'follow' Customer Hub tiles to receive the latest updates straight to your inbox? Head to your favourite section(s) (e.g. Global News) and simply click the 'Follow' button at the top of the page.