Where are refrigerated container rates headed?

Where are refrigerated container rates headed?

Refrigerated containers.

Despite the nature of the reefer trade with its seasonal swings in commodities and trade lanes, reefer container rates in 2017 did not reflect any slack or off-peak dips. Photo credit: Shutterstock.


In January 2017, Drewry Supply Chain Advisors launched its Global Reefer Freight Rate Index. According to Stijn Rubencos, senior consultant, following four releases, the index is revealing several important trends.

For one, despite the nature of the reefer trade with its seasonal swings in commodities and trade lanes, reefer container rates in 2017 did not reflect any slack or off-peak dips.

In fact, “The reefer rate index only increased,” said Rubens, who attributed the anomaly to the effects of consolidation in the shipping industry combined with a shortage of reefer containers and ongoing migration of reefer cargo from specialized carriers to containerized carriers.

This was in contrast to rates for dry vans, which tend to follow seasonal swings, he said.

For 2018, Rubens expects reefer rates to continue climbing, in part because the impact of consolidation will take a while to materialize.

The result of mergers and acquisitions “hasn’t really touched the market yet in full force,” he said. “There are still services that must be rescheduled and fleets that need to be combined.”

Meanwhile, Rubens is also anticipating strong reefer growth in certain emerging segments and trade lanes. Refrigerated transport of confectionary goods to markets in the Middle East, Asia and Southeast Asia is experiencing robust expansion. In some cases, it’s up to 30 percent year over year.

Contact Lara L. Sowinski at lsowinski@gmail.com