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Global Container Shipping Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)

  • ID: 5332809
  • Report
  • May 2021
  • Region: Global
  • 200 pages
  • Mordor Intelligence
until Sep 30th 2021


  • A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S
  • Evergreen Line
  • Hamburg Sud
  • Hapag-Lloyd AG
  • NYK
  • MORE
The Global Container Shipment market is expected to register a CAGR of more than 5%, during the forecast period (2021-2026). The COVID-19 pandemic has sent shockwaves through global maritime transport and laid the foundations for a transformed industry and associated supply chains. While the contraction of cargo volumes brought an additional challenge to structural market imbalance, the container shipping industry adopted more discipline, capacity and reduced costs to maintain profitability. Global container shipping is showing a strong recovery, leaving behind the pandemic, as reported by AP Moller-Maersk and CMA-CGM (the world’s two largest container shipping lines).

The increase in volumes transported was due to the pick-up in global economic activity following the easing of various lockdown measures; the strong momentum in terms of the consumption of goods encouraged in some locations by support packages; strong e-commerce growth with inventory rebuilding and the usual seasonal variation in business activity.

Despite the alarming headlines in H1 2020, container shipping proved extraordinarily buoyant in 2020 in terms of volumes as well as freight rates. After a 5.0 million TEU (7.3%) drop in volumes in the first five months of the year, volumes were down by only 1.7% (a loss of 2.6 million TEU - by the end of November 2020).

There also exists a huge potential for shipping containers in the rail freight and trucking industry. However, the factors, such as protectionist measures by some nations and high freight rates in the transportation of containerized goods, are likely to restrain the growth up to some extent. In addition, the environmental regulations on using water-based coatings are also likely to incur some extra costs.

Key Market Trends

Increasing Seaborne Trade

The seaborne cargo trade is experiencing an upsurge in demand for the transportation of cargo through waterways backed by factors like cargo safety and cost-effectiveness. Cargo ships are less expensive for shipping goods as compared to road and air transits. Ships can carry more cargo from one place to another within a short span of time. In 2019, developing economies accounted for the largest share of global seaborne trade, both in terms of exports and imports. They loaded 58% and unloaded 65% of the world total tonnage. With a volume of 4.3 billion tons loaded and 6.1 billion tons unloaded, Asian and Oceanian developing economies contributed most to that share.

Additionally, the growing number of container ships and an increase in the port capacity in countries throughout the world is propelling the demand for new container shipping in the market. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) expects maritime trade growth to return to positive territory and expand by 4.8% in 2021, assuming world economic output recovers.

Increasing Intermodal Freight Transportation

Intermodal freight transport offers freight savings and reduced emissions, especially when transporting products over distances of 500 miles or more. Optimizing each transport method's relative strengths and efficiencies, intermodal can help reduce cargo handling, damage, and loss, enabling freight to be transported more securely and at lower overall costs.

According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals State of Logistics Report, transportation comprises 66% of total logistics costs. Adding intermodal into the transportation mix delivers tangible cost savings. Incorporating multiple modes of transportation into the carrier base reduces reliance on a single source of capacity. Supply chain leaders who use multimodal freight moves could realize short and long-term benefits by leveraging each mode of transportation's strengths. Along with the shipping companies, rail and road transportation is also growing moving everything from raw materials such as grain and coal to manufactured goods including furniture and cars-plus produce and other food products. The transportation of goods has become easy with the increasing use of intermodal containers and trailers.

Competitive Landscape

The global container shipping market fairly fragmented in nature with the presence of many international companies in the market. The top players in the segment include Maersk, MSC, CMA, COSCO and Hapag Lloyd. High barriers to entry due to the high cost of vehicles together with increasing economies of scale affect competition in the industry. The industry structure is also affected by strict international government regulations and the cyclicality of demand. Shipping firms are making judicious investments in new assets to guarantee reliability and efficiency to their customers and earn superior returns on their investments. Due to shipping congestions during COVID-19, the shipping companies have realised the benefits of consolidation in ways of cost reduction and sustainability. The anticipated trend of automation in marine transportation and the rise in marine safety norms is also expected to create opportunities for the market players in the coming years.

Reasons to Purchase this report:
  • The market estimate (ME) sheet in Excel format
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Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown


  • A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S
  • Evergreen Line
  • Hamburg Sud
  • Hapag-Lloyd AG
  • NYK
  • MORE
1.1 Study Assumptions and Market Definition
1.2 Scope of the Study



4.1 Current Market Scenario
4.2 Market Dynamics
4.2.1 Drivers
4.2.2 Restraints
4.2.3 Opportunities
4.3 Value Chain/Supply Chain Analysis
4.4 Industry Policies and Regulations
4.5 Technological Developments in the Logistics Sector
4.6 Industry Attractiveness - Porter's Five Forces Analysis
4.7 Impact of COVID-19 on the Market
4.8 Insight on End-Users in the Market

5.1 By Size
5.1.1 Small Containers
5.1.2 Large Containers
5.1.3 High Cube Containers
5.2 By Type
5.2.1 General Container Shipping
5.2.2 Reefer Container Shipping
5.3 By Geography
5.3.1 North America United States Canada Mexico Rest of North America
5.3.2 Europe Germany France United Kingdom Italy Rest of Europe
5.3.3 Asia-Pacific China Japan Australia India Singapore Malaysia Indonesia Thailand Rest of Asia-Pacific
5.3.4 Middle East & Africa Egypt Qatar Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates South Africa Rest of Middle East & Africa
5.3.5 South America Brazil Colombia Rest of South America

6.1 Market Concentration Overview
6.2 Company Profiles
6.2.1 A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S
6.2.2 MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S. A.
6.2.3 CMA CGM
6.2.4 China COSCO Holdings Company Limited
6.2.5 Evergreen Line
6.2.6 Hapag-Lloyd AG
6.2.7 OOCL
6.2.8 YMMTC
6.2.9 Hamburg Sud
6.2.10 NYK*


Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown

A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes:

  • A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S
  • MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S. A.
  • China COSCO Holdings Company Limited
  • Evergreen Line
  • Hapag-Lloyd AG
  • OOCL
  • Hamburg Sud
  • NYK
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown