According to independent maritime consultancy Drewry, reefer container freight rates are likely to be higher through 2022, outpacing earlier estimates as well as expectations for dry container freight rates. Reefer traffic is seen recovering from a flat 2020, Drewry said in its report Reefer Shipping Forecaster, and added that container vessel slots continue to remain scarce amid tight supply and continuing supply chain disruption.
Drewry’s Global Reefer Container Freight Rate Index, a weighted average of rates across the top 15 reefer intensive deep-sea trade routes, increased 48 percent over the year to 3Q21. The increase is expected to reach as much as 55 percent by the end of 4Q21.
Shippers of lower value cargoes like bananas, onions, citrus or frozen vegetables "are now confronted with much higher shipping costs after enjoying years of relatively low freight rates which helped them develop markets far afield. They must now work hard to ensure these higher costs are passed on to retailers and end consumers."
Seaborne reefer traffic is expected to increase over 3 percent in 2021 to reach 136 million tons, a little lower than previous estimates. "All commodities are showing growth in 2021 except bananas. Trade in meat to Asia is slowing amid lower pork prices in China and the banana trade is expected to decline 5 percent in 2021, owing to an on-going disease of the Philippines crop and low banana prices in general."
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