Maersk, the world’s largest containerline, has given customers a snapshot of how it sees the year playing out with plenty more disruption on the cards for global supply chains.
In a note to clients in Asia-Pacific yesterday, Maersk stated China’s imminent October Golden Week, Christmas and Chinese New Year will bolster strong demand for container shipping for the last quarter of 2021. Port congestion, especially in the US and Europe, and service delays are expected to create headwinds for service schedules, Maersk warned.
“Extra loaders and ad hoc port omissions will be implemented to help improve reliability,” the Danish liner stated.
Looking at the global economy, Maersk pointed out that inventory levels in Europe and the US remain at their lowest levels on record, leading to stock outs on some products.
We advise customers to plan their supply chains well ahead, particularly for the upcoming holiday rush
“This means even once retail demand declines, we will see cargo volumes continue to remain strong as inventory levels need to be rebuilt,” Maersk explained going on to project global container demand growth will grow 6% to 8% in 2021.
Maersk also provided clients with an idea of container availabity across Asia-Pacific with China, Indonesia and Vietnam highlighted as struggling the most (see chart below).
Maersk has tripled the number of dry freight containers in its fleet during the last few months. However, In-fleeting of new containers alone is no longer sufficient to meet overall demand, it said.
The carrier said it expects strong export demand from Asia to continue for the rest of the year particularly into the US and Europe.
To improve schedule reliability, Maersk has decided to adjust vessel voyage numbers on Asia-North Europe services to match the corresponding actual weeks of departure. Maersk will rationalise some of its service coverages to reduce the number of port calls to improve reliability.
“We advise customers to plan their supply chains well ahead, particularly for the upcoming holiday rush,” Maersk stressed yesterday, echoing many similar comments made by port bosses and retail associations over the past month.
Maersk expects Q4 to be stronger for Asia imports with network utilisation remaining above 95%.