Container Shipping - Statistics & Facts

Container Shipping - Statistics & Facts

Statistics and Facts about Container Shipping

In terms of value, global seaborne container trade is believed to account for approximately 60 percent of all world seaborne trade, and was valued at around 5.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2010. While the quantity of goods carried by containers has risen from around 100 million metric tons in 1980 to about 1.6 billion metric tons in 2014, vessels have likewise increased their capacity. Between 1980 and 2015, the deadweight tonnage of container ships has grown from about 11 million metric tons to around 228 million metric tons. In 2012, the global cellular container ship fleet had the capacity to carry some 15.4 million standard containers. With a total capacity of just under 2.6 million TEUs*, Danish shipping line APM-Maersk is currently the largest container-shipping company globally, followed by MSC, CMA, Evergreen Line and Hapag-Lloyd. Germany's Hapag-Lloyd went public in 2015. The industry is faced with many challenges such as low freight rates; South Korea's Hanjin was forced into bankruptcy in 2016 and Maersk will likely acquire Germany's Hamburg Süd.


In 2015, five out of the five leading container-handling ports worldwide were Asia-based. The port of Shanghai was the busiest container port in the world, handling about 36.5 million TEUs of containerized cargo. In its 2015 fiscal year, the port of Los Angeles handled some 8.2 million TEUs, making it the largest container port in the United States.

* The abbreviation TEU stands for twenty-foot equivalent unit, a standard unit of measure in the shipping industry.



Photo: istockphoto.com / ralfgosch

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