Supply Chain Hopeful of Container Market Rebound, Survey Shows

A survey of more than 2,500 supply chain professionals has shown that a majority are hopeful of container market rebound.

Despite the ongoing market fluctuations, the Container xChange’s Container Price Sentiment Index (xCPSI) witnessed growth in July over June. Container prices have also remained stable in July, indicating a market improvement that offers favorable conditions for shippers entering the critical peak season.

“As economists shift from predicting recession to a ‘soft landing’, the industry holds its momentum. While some experts remain cautious, the foundation of a resilient economy, sustained consumer activity, and strategic federal investments improves the outlook of the upcoming holiday season,” said Container xChange’s CEO Christian Roeloffs.

While the opinion is varied, 42% of respondents surveyed foresee an increase in container prices in the near-term which is indicative of potential market improvement, while 28% foresee a further decline in container prices, suggesting a certain degree of pessimism in the market. 30% of those surveyed maintained that prices would remain unchanged.

“It’s a shipper’s market this peak season as rates stabilize at below pre-COVID levels and capacity is abundant. Prices are low and this offers a great opportunity for exporters this peak season.” Roeloffs added.

The xCPSI is a quantitative measure of container price trends based on market surveys of industry experts. The survey conducted in July had 2,570 participants and provides insight into near-future expectations for the container market dynamics. Findings were released today in the August edition of Container xChange’s market forecaster report.

According to the report, container prices have been stable over the last 30 days, with fluctuations ranging from -4% to +5.20% across key regions. Despite a dip in prices over the past 90 days, the sentiment index has remained strong, suggesting a turning point towards market recovery. Asian ports have seen steady changes in container prices, providing opportunities for shippers engaging in container trading or leasing within Southeast Asia.

The report also highlights a surge in Intra-Asia trade fueled by China’s 6% YoY increase in Q2 2023 container throughput. Notably, the China to India trade route witnessed increased container demand. In parallel, the United States anticipates an industry rebound, with import cargo volumes expected to peak in August 2023, bolstered by GDP growth and improved manufacturing PMI. Meanwhile, the Eurozone has avoided a technical recession, though high inflation affects shipping costs.

“The shipping industry’s course for the next few months is intricately woven with economic shifts, trade dynamics, and supply chain adaptations. As we approach the holiday season, the industry’s resilience and adaptability will be put to the test,” the report says.