Welcome to the latest edition of the Xeneta Shipping Index (XSI®) report for the long-term contract container market. The first month of Q3 saw contracted rates surge by their largest ever monthly increase, climbing by close to one third. The XSI global index recorded a staggering jump of 28.1%, blowing the previous record (a 11.3% rise in May 2019) out the water. The benchmark now stands 78.2% higher than in July 2020, up 76.4% in 2021 alone.
“We’ve seen a combination of high demand, under capacity and supply chain disruption (in part down to COVID and port congestion) driving rates ever higher this year, but nobody could have anticipated a hike of this magnitude. The industry is in overdrive," says Patrik Berglund, CEO, Xeneta.
“Reports suggest that more than 300 vessels have already been ordered this year to try and redress the balance. However, these obviously won’t come on line for some time, so it’s difficult to see – unless something radical transpires – any relief on the immediate horizon for the shipper community. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Shippers on holiday alert
Despite what Berglund describes as “a crazy market” he notes that the majority of Xeneta users shipping large volumes report long-term contracts are mostly being honored by carriers. This, he says, is better than the beginning of the summer, when the fear of rolled cargoes and broken agreements was front of mind for a stressed shipper community.
“However,” he states, “bear in mind that volume flexibility is totally gone, with shippers committing to maximum quantities to secure positions onboard. Furthermore, all around the world, but especially in the US, shippers are playing safe and building buffer agreements to ensure they’re covered for the holiday season. As such a ‘bullwhip effect’ is coming into play, as shippers order more to protect against delayed shipments and rollovers, further disrupting the supply chain. But, of course, who can blame them – they see it as the only way to stay ahead and make sure Christmas is saved.”
XSI® - US Imports / Exports
US imports on the XSI® jumped by 17.7% in July to 195.52 points. Representing another new all-time high, the index is up 61.2% year-on-year and has risen by 60.0% since Dec-20. While smaller, exports also recorded a month-on-month increase, with the XSI® jumping by 11.1% to 105.08.
XSI® - Europe Imports / Exports
European imports on the XSI® jumped by a massive 49.1% in July to 243.96 points. This represents by far the largest month-on-month increases on record and takes the benchmark to an all-time high well above previously recorded levels. Meanwhile, exports increased by 16.0% in July to 165.81 points. While less dramatic than on the import trade, this still represents the single largest monthly increase since the inception of the XSI® compared to the same period last year.
XSI® - Far East Imports / Exports
Far East imports on the XSI® increased by 7.3% month-on-month in July to 144.26. This represents the fourth straight monthly increase and ensures the index is now up 43.2% year-on-year, while it is 49.6% higher than in Dec-20. Far East exports recorded an even larger jump this month, rising by 24.2% to 250.30.