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Maersk sees global container volumes slump of up to 4% this year

Photo: Maersk Maersk_box_crane.jpg
A Maersk branded container being moved by a crane.
AP Moller – Maersk is forecasting that global container shipping volumes could contract by up to 4% this year.

Releasing its second quarter results Maersk said that given the weak start to the year and continued destocking it saw global container volumes growth in a range of -4% to -1% compared to a forecast of -2.5% to 0.5% previously.

Looking at the second quarter of the year the company commented: “The combination of recession concerns and high inventories has resulted in poor demand growth for container trade and logistics services. In Q2, the demand for containers declined between 4.0% and 6.5% year-on-year, due to weak import growth into North America, Oceania and Far East Asia.”

Maersk’s loaded volumes in Q2 2023 were down 6.1% compared to Q2 2022.

The company’s average loaded freight rate in Q2 2023 was $2,444 per feu down 51% compared to $4,983 per feu in the same quarter in 2022. Compared to Q1 2023 the loaded freight rate was down 15%.

The sharp drop in container freight rates resulted in EBIT for Maersk’s ocean business of $1.2 billion Q2 2023 down some $7.3 billion on the $8.5 billion EBIT it reported in Q2 2022.

This filtered directly through to its results at a group level with an EBIT of $1.6 billion in Q2 2023 compared to $8.5 billion in the same quarter last year.

Revenues for Maersk in Q2 2023 stood at $13 billion down from $21.7 billion the Q2 2023.

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Despite the sharp fall in profits and demand Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc sounded upbeat. “The Q2 result contributed to a strong first half of the year, where we responded to sharp changes in market conditions prompted by destocking and subdued growth environment following the pandemic fuelled years. Our decisive actions on cost containment together with our contract portfolio cushioned some of the effects of this market normalization,” he said.

“Cost focus will continue to play a central role in dealing with a subdued market outlook that we expect to continue until end year.”

Maersk marginally upped its full year EBIT forecast to $3.5 - $5.0 billion compared to $2.0 - $5.0 billion previously.