The general availability of reefer container equipment is expected to remain tight during the next few years, and this will affect shipping capacity supply and freight rates at seasonal peaks. That was one of the main conclusions of Drewry’s latest Reefer Shipping Annual Review and Forecast 2019/20 report informs.
Director, Head of Research Products, Martin Dixon thinks that following the dramatic halt in reefer equipment expenditure by cash-strapped shipping lines in 2016, a development that caused acute shortages in several areas, production of new refrigerated container equipment recovered during 2017, while it also continued to gain pace in 2018.
However, there is plenty of containership reefer slot capacity on most trades, though some routes with a high proportion of reefer cargo can face tight space during seasonal peaks. With cargo owners depending more and more on container carriers to transport perishable products, refrigerated shipping capacity could be constrained during seasonal peaks.
In addition, worldwide seaborne reefer trade saw an increase in 2018, but the pace of expansion was slower than trend and is expected to be more muted over the coming years. Drewry estimates that the volume of seaborne reefer cargo rose 3% in 2018 to 129 million tonnes which was weaker than the 4.4% gain achieved in 2017 and the 3.5% average annual rate recorded over the prior 10-year period. The weaker trade development was mainly due to a slowdown in shipments of meat and poultry, fish and seafood, and banana shipments, as well as a contraction in deciduous trade.