‘Two-tier’ market surfacing as gap between mega and smaller box lines widens

The thesis of this article is that mergers have created two tiers of ocean container lines. The upper tier is contract-focused and the lower tier is focused on the short-term and spot markets.

According to the analyst from Alphaliner, a data source specializing in ocean transport, the top ten carriers operate 21.8 million TEU of shipping, while the lines ranked 11 through 30 have only 3.2 million TEU.

The top ten carriers increased profits by 1000 to 6000 percent over the last two years. The smaller ones only increased between 100 and 700 percent. Those are definitely two tiers of profit.

I would have preferred an analysis based on Pareto charts. The 80-20 rule is a good way of classifying such data.

But where is the connection between the contract carriers and the spot carriers? Is it correct that the large liner firms are predominantly contract-based and the small ones are spot-based? The result are based on Alphaliner’s survey, so possibly some of the questions dealt with this.

However, we have heard a lot recently about Maersk actively courting the spot market business with their website and the offer of end-to-end service. They are one of the big liner firms, and you would think from the article that they would be contract-based.

I have also heard of dedicated fleets of container ships serving for specific large shippers, such as Walmart and Home Depot and Costco. These lines have small TEU capacity, are not really common carriers that have to take any freight (though some offer their cargo space to others on a spot basis), but certainly are basically contracted for.

I guess you have to see the report in full to get the contract vs. spot connection.

By Mike Wackett 17/08/2022

‘Two-tier’ market surfacing as gap between mega and smaller box lines widens – The Loadstar

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