World shipping, the most used mode for the major import-export flows of global trade, has been affected since the outbreak of the pandemic by a series of factors such as the restructuring of ports of call, the lack of containers, blank sailing and the increase in maritime freight rates.
At the same time, during all these months, another trend that had already begun before COVID-19 has been consolidating: the high concentration of the large shipping lines, which account for more than 80% of the world fleet, as opposed to a global freight forwarder market that is totally pulverised, highly fragmented, despite operating worldwide.
Aware of the competitive and fragmented scenario in which we find ourselves, Operinter works every day to increase its negotiating capacity with shipping companies thanks to its presence in all the world’s markets, its personalised services and its extensive experience as an international logistics operator by land, sea and air.
Freight forwarding: fragmentation and specialisation
The global forwarding market is characterised by its atomisation and the dominance, in most countries, of local forwarders competing in an interconnected world. They have a deep knowledge of the client from their proximity, a high degree of specialisation and collaboration with companies in other countries. It is a stable industry, with narrow margins and a high level of competition.
This is why some experts suggest that a greater concentration of this type of companies would result in a change in the business relationship between freight forwarders and shipping companies. In other words, greater power and more scope for decision making.
Shipping lines concentration
The shipping business is in a very different situation to the freight forwarding. Currently, the nine largest lines in the world have established themselves in three major maritime alliances, which means that the shipping market is highly concentrated. In fact, 100% of the largest ships (+18,000 TEUs) are in the hands of one of these big companies.
These are Alliance 2 M (formed by the Danish Maersk and Swiss MSC, which together account for 33% of the world fleet), Ocean Alliance (with the French CMA CGM, the Chinese Cosco and the Taiwanese Evergreen with 30.1%) and, finally, The Alliance (the companies Hapag Lloyd, HMM, ONE and Yang Ming with 19.8% of the ships). The remaining 17.1% is accounted by the rest of the world’s shipping lines.