Transportation & Logistics Analysis

Little softening of demand or prices in the shipping sector

March 25 2021

The fall in demand generally seen at the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations did not occur this year. Ships are full and container freight rates are still high.

"Take your annual holidays now. All the ships are full…" This half-joking remark from a shipping company executive sums up well the current state of the container shipping market.

Demand still vigorous

A first point should be made in this second edition of Upply Container Shipping Barometer covering the month of February. The fall in demand generally seen after the Chinese New Year clearly did not happen this year. On the contrary, whether it be on Asia-Europe or Asia- US West Coast routes, demand remained extremely strong. Industry in China and Asia zone generally was producing at full capacity.

Shipping companies "disciplined"

On the shipping company side, we saw no change of strategy. Discipline intended to control access to the "product", which is to say to sailings and containers, was fully maintained to ensure freight rates stayed high. The Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI) fell 8.5% from the high point it reached in early February. Price levels were high on the Asia-Europe trade corridor, with prices up more than 349% over those recorded in March 2020. The NAC quarterly rates charged by forwarders helped to make this happen.


  • Price review by trade (+ focus on East-West transatlantic traffic)
  • Services
  • Operations




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Expert in Ocean shipping for 25 years, Jerome puts all his knowledge of the industry to contribution for Upply. Ship captain at heart, he has written the English-French Lexicon of Containerized Shipping (Paris: CELSE, 2001).
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