Container freight rates increased dramatically between January 2019 and October 2022. The year 2021 saw an especially steep increase in global freight rates, reaching a record price of nearly 10,400 U.S. dollars in September 2021. In October 2022, the global freight rate index stood at 3,100 U.S. dollars.
How did we get here?
The global supply chain is a fragile system consisting of numerous links and disruption to one can send cascading effects down the chain. that need to function properly for the whole system to work. The COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be an event of such a magnitude to either bring to halt whole industries and supply chains, or severely reduce their efficiency. Due to its complexity and transcontinental nature, container shipping was hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, the shipping industry has had to struggle with port closures and congestions, labor shortages, difficulties with capacity utilization, as well as a lack of new shipping containers.
Container carriers profiting
While costs of operating a container fleet have increased, the surge in freight rates has not served just to cover rising expenses. Container ship operators have been reporting record-high operating profit margins since the beginning of the pandemic. In the third quarter of 2021, main container shipping companies had an average profit margin of over 56 percent, up from about 8.5 percent a year earlier. Some of the carriers are using these profits to increase their carrying capacity by buying new containers and ordering new container ships. However, delivering newly ordered ships is still years4 away.
Global container freight rate index from January 2019 to October 2022
(in U.S. dollars)
The source tracks the freight costs of 40ft containers via eight major routes, including spot rates and short-term contract rates.
The values are an average of the five business days of the last full week in each month.
Values have been rounded.
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MacroMicro. (November 9, 2022). Global container freight rate index from January 2019 to October 2022 (in U.S. dollars) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved November 26, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1250636/global-container-freight-index/
MacroMicro. "Global container freight rate index from January 2019 to October 2022 (in U.S. dollars)." Chart. November 9, 2022. Statista. Accessed November 26, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1250636/global-container-freight-index/
MacroMicro. (2022). Global container freight rate index from January 2019 to October 2022 (in U.S. dollars). Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: November 26, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1250636/global-container-freight-index/
MacroMicro. "Global Container Freight Rate Index from January 2019 to October 2022 (in U.S. Dollars)." Statista, Statista Inc., 9 Nov 2022, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1250636/global-container-freight-index/
MacroMicro, Global container freight rate index from January 2019 to October 2022 (in U.S. dollars) Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1250636/global-container-freight-index/ (last visited November 26, 2022)