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Xenata survey flies in the face of negative container sentiment

Photo: MSC MSC Isabella in port
MSC Mia sistership MSC Isabella
Oslo analyst, Xeneta, has found no grounds for recent reports that container freight volumes are easing and shippers are dismayed at rising bunker adjustment factors (BAFs).

The firm’s latest Ocean Freight Pulse survey, providing feedback from leading shippers, reveals that over 50% of respondents expect volumes to stay the same or even increase, against 38% who expect a small fall of just 5%.

Despite oil prices easing by about 6% over the last month, Xeneta is not aware of dismay over BAFs. It found that 78% said that they were staying with the original bunker formula, accepting the third quarter increase detailed in their long-term agreements with carriers.

Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at Xeneta said that the survey’s findings go some way to “de-bunking current industry myths”. He was talking about reports of shippers calling for negotiations with carriers on rate reductions. Some reports described rates as falling sharply but the Xeneta survey found little evidence of this. 

Sand said that some people had been “jumping the gun”, pushing narratives of a sector heading for stormy waters in the balance of the year. “It’s not uncommon to read articles in the mainstream media at present forecasting declines of up to 15%,” Sand said.

“However, those stories are often based on assumptions, rather than genuine interaction with key stakeholders and analysis of the latest data. We’d say, from our dialogue with some of the world’s biggest shippers, that the outlook is actually significantly more stable.”

Sand expressed some surprise over the response on BAFs. Shippers had been left reeling by spiralling ocean rates, measuring their fortunes against a backdrop of unbelievable earnings for carriers. “We’d have expected more pushback than this,” he declared.