Trade along the busiest lane in container shipping has remained steady over the course of the year and has seen some growth despite several setbacks, including the Ever Given blockage of the Suez Canal for nearly seven days at the end of March.
Along the Asia to Europe and Mediterranean routes, capacity has bounced back after the Suez Canal incident, however spot rates have skyrocketed to all-time highs due to a shortage of containers amidst the ever-growing demand.
The Freightos Baltic Index (FBX) currently shows a spot rate from China/East Asia to Northern Europe at $8,151 as of May 7, 2021. This is a staggering 476% increase from the $1,415 rate on May 15, 2020. China/East Asia to the Mediterranean shows a similar increase from $1,977 on May 15, 2020 to $8,931 on May 7, 2021, a 352% increase.
Drewry’s World Container Index similarly shows the drastic jump in rates. The Shanghai-Rotterdam route on May 7, 2021 was shown at $8,371, a 469% increase from the year prior. The Shanghai-Genoa route is currently at $8,532, a 428% increase over the previous year.
On April 14, Hapag-Lloyd announced in a press release of an order of 150,000 containers, both dry and reefer, to help alleviate the shortage of containers. Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd, stated “The container shipping industry is currently seeing unprecedented demand, which has led to a shortage of containers all over the world. With its recent container orders, Hapag-Lloyd is contributing to efforts to ease the current situation and will be able to offer its customers a much better service.”
The above chart, built using BlueWater Reporting’s Capacity Report, shows a year-over-year analysis of both Asia to North Europe and Asia to Mediterranean routes estimated weekly allocated capacity in TEUs.
To North Europe, the capacity slightly increased from the last week of April 2018 to April 2019, 239,680 estimated weekly allocated TEUs to 245,344, a 2.36% increase. It decreased by 17.5% to 202,260 TEUs during the final week of April 2020, most likely due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It had increased significantly at the end of this April to 271,502 TEUs, a 34.23% increase year-over-year, surpassing even the pre-coronavirus numbers.
The Mediterranean has seen a slighter change in capacity from Asia, with the last week of April 2021 showing an increase in estimated weekly allocated TEUs than the previous year, 132,186 TEUs to 145,716 TEUs, although has not reached the pre-coronavirus capacity from April 2018 and April 2019, 149,331 TEUs and 147,1777 TEUs, respectively.
Using the same data provided before, but analyzing each month of this year until April, it shows a slight increase of estimated weekly allocated capacity on both routes.
Asia to North Europe has increased by 6.18% from 255,707 TEUs at the last week of January 2021 to 271,502 TEUs in April. Asia to Mediterranean shown a slighter increase from 142,384 TEUs to 145,716 TEUs, or 2.34%.