In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Maersk CEO Soren Skou discusses how high demand for ocean freight is projected to continue through to 2022 and the ongoing congestion at ports.
“What we’re saying to the market is that we expect our fourth quarter to be more or less in line with our third quarter and that we expect the first quarter – which is pretty much as far out as we can see in our booking data – to be in line with the third and the fourth quarter. We will provide guidance on 2022 when we usually do that, in February, but for now, there’s plenty of demand from our customers,”
Shou went on to talk about the ongoing port congestion, noting, “Globally, the industry has around 300 ships waiting outside various ports – mostly Los Angeles, around 80 ships, but we also have congestion in the UK, at Felixstowe, in China and a number of other locations – which is really driven not by lack of shipping capacity but by labour in the ports, and in particular, in the US and UK, by a lack of truckers to pull containers away from the port. So, the ports are being clogged up, and we cannot discharge as many containers as we would like, as fast as we would like.”
When asked if the ocean freight market was exhibiting signs of ‘normalisation,’ Skou responded: “We have a situation right now where there’s very, very strong demand, driven by consumer demand – first and foremost, by American consumer demand but certainly also strong demand in Europe. On top of that, we have very low inventories around the supply chain.”
“So, our customers are doing two things at the same time. They’re trying to meet strong consumer demand, but they’re also trying to stock up to increase their inventories. And that’s what’s driving the very strong demand for transportation right now,”.