Container xChange, a global container trading and leasing tech company published today the results of the xChange Industry Speak Survey 2021-22 to almost 800 container logistics players including shipping lines, container traders, freight forwarding companies, shippers and procurement companies. The global survey vocalized the perspective of the industry members and revealed that 75% of the players engaged in container logistics have been rethinking their logistics strategy for the next year (2022).
The findings of the survey pointed (a) finding slots on the vessel, and (b) surcharges by carriers as the topmost concerns in the industry, while one-way leasing emerged as the most sought after alternative to getting equipment from the carriers. Another concern, though not very prominent was the shortage of labour. The survey respondents did not hint at a prosperous upcoming year as 65% of them think the performance of the container logistics industry will deteriorate further.
A major chunk of the respondents (71%) said that they were considering diverse sourcing and increasing inventory holdings as a part of rethinking their logistics strategy. On these lines, 50% of the total respondents have resorted to one-way leasing, followed by long term leasing contracts and container buying as alternatives to getting equipment from carriers.
We foresee that COVID-19 and its new variants will continue to disrupt the port operations and labor capacity as we progress into the year 2022. Persistent unpredictability is warranted. We’ve also started to observe container prices and leasing rates going down. Once prices slide significantly, they risk crashing. If we look at the current demand, we see that the demand for containers hasn’t increased significantly.”~ Christian Roeloffs, Cofounder and CEO, Container xChange
The survey also collected data on what, according to the respondents, could be pinned as the reasons for the global container shortage. The major consensus (48%) was shippers using boxes as storage, followed by container line failure (28%) and inefficiencies in matching box owners to potential users (28%). Other factors quoted were longer transit times and port congestion leading to longer times taken for container rotation.
Container Lines, at 64%, were unanimously voted as the victor of the global supply chain crisis i.e. they drew the most benefit from the disruptions around the world. On the other hand, 75% of respondents agreed that their business was affected by the pandemic. When further bifurcated, 54% of these saw shrinking profit margins, 36% had a tough time with transparency in supply chain and another 36% were coerced into adopting technology in their business.
2021 was an outstanding year for the shipping industry. The staggering earnings and profits for ocean freight companies have surpassed the combined industry profits made over the whole decade. It was also a year that showed that shippers were “willing” to pay higher prices for shipping. Now, those earnings and profits will need to prove that this money can be put to good use to improve service levels across the industry. This has to go beyond the traditional levers of investing in more container capacity – but also into landside infrastructure, inland transportation and infrastructure for cross-industry collaboration to build resilience for the industry.”~ Johannes Schlingmeier, Co-founder and CEO, Container xChange
Though the industry has made significant progress in the last year, it still has a long way to go before it can again hold ground. However, the new Omicron variant poses a bundle of challenges once more, and the world is yet to see if the industry is well prepared and equipped to handle these challenges.