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Ocean Freight Market Update - January 2022

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

The latest edition of Ocean Freight Market Update - January/2022.


  1. Highlights

  2. Focus

  3. Trade route analysis


2021 is ending as it began, with disruptions at every level of the supply chain (elevated freight rates, poor schedule reliability, congestion in terminals, and inland infrastructures in important ports).

After several weeks of relative stability, freight rates resume increasing as carriers continue to resort to blank sailings or port omissions to recover their schedules. Despite a record number of canceled calls on the Asia/North Europe trade, the estimated deployed capacity in December was 19 % year on year. However, space on board is still a genuine concern for shippers.

According to Project44 data, congestion has improved slightly in some ports, except in Los Angeles, up 47 % in November. However, the situation is still very complicated in many terminals. Carriers are involving themselves to encourage shippers to pick up their containers. Most observers think that, until the situation normalizes in the US, all the other trades will suffer and expect that the entire 2022 will be very complicated.

Various risk elements, which are at the same time “unpredictable” and likely to happen, hang over the outlook for 2022.

Some of them are directly linked to the pandemic, especially government responses to the new variants. Restrictions and their impact on the supply chain can be more or less critical from one country to another.

The amount of demand is difficult to estimate given that it is measured based on freight being moved (loaded by carriers or handled in ports or cleared by Customs). Considering the amount of cargo waiting in ports, warehouses, or factories, this estimation is currently impossible. Moreover, demand could be impacted by economic reasons (inflation, end of government supports to consumers).

Furthermore, nobody knows how long it will take to unravel the myriad of bottlenecks.

Lastly, the carriers’ pricing behavior is still unknown, but limited deliveries of new vessels are expected to keep freight rates elevated.


Schedule reliability recorded a marginal -0.6 percentage point decline month-on-month, dropping to 33.6% in November 2021, maintaining the range of 33%-40% that has been seen throughout the year. On a Y/Y level, schedule reliability in November 2021 was -16.4 percentage points lower.

The average delay for late vessel arrivals recorded an improvement, decreasing by -0.57 days M/M to 6.93 days. That said, the level of delays in 2021 continues to be the highest across each month when compared historically. On a Y/Y level, the November 2021 figure was 1.71 days more elevated than in 2020.

Carriers go on struggling to improve vessel reliability and are in the odd position of having to increase deployed capacity to cover ship delays while at the same time being forced to blank large numbers of sailings to recover lost schedules.

Shipping industry

After record profits, some carriers are making considerable investments to pursue their diversification.

CMA CGM is to acquire the commerce and lifecycle services business of US-based contract logistics and e-commerce specialist Ingram Micro. In contrast, Maersk will purchase the Hong Kong-based LF Logistics.




Trade route analysis

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