Top 40 Container Carriers

Top 40 Container Carriers

The JOC regularly ranks the Top 40 container carriers in the US trade by import, export, and total volume using trade data from PIERS.

The list evolves each year, and reflects changes in the US economy and container trade, as carriers jostle for position and import and export volume rises or falls.

Top Five Ocean Carriers

The Top 5 US carriers are Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., CMA CGM/APL, Hapag-Lloyd, and Evergreen Line. With the exception of Evergreen Line, the Top 5 US carriers are also in the Top 5 for global fleet operators. The carriers are organized into global vessel-sharing agreements. Those currently in effect are the 2M Alliance of MSC and Maersk, the Ocean Alliance of CMA CGM, APL, Cosco Shipping, Evergreen Line, and OOCL, and the Transport High Efficiency (THE) Alliance of Ocean Network Express, Yang Ming Line, and Hapag-Lloyd.

Carriers have had to adjust to a new reality of growth following the Great Recession (2007 to 2009), when the GDP multiplier, which refers to the rate of global container trade growth as a multiple of global GDP expansion, fell from 2.2 to around 1.1.

This seismic shift occurred just as the industry was absorbing a surge of new capacity and carriers ordered and put into service mega-ships in excess of 20,000 TEU. That led to severe overcapacity that drove down rates and ate into carrier profitability and generated losses, culminating in the August 2016 collapse of Hanjin Shipping, which at the time was the world’s seventh-largest container line. 

Previous Ocean Carrier Rankings

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-December 2018

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-December 2017

Top 40 Container Carriers, US Import and Export Trades, January-December 2016

Top 40 Container Carriers, US Import and Export Trades, January-December 2015

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Export Trade, January-December 2014

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, January-December 2014

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Export Trade, 2013

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, 2013

Top 40 Carriers in US Containerized Trade in 2012

Special Coverage

JOC Top 40 container carrier rankings first half 2019
Container carriers in the slowing US import and export trades are exercising increased discipline, maintaining capacity levels rather than introducing new vessels in an attempt to secure a larger share of the market.

News & Analysis

09 Mar 2020
CMA CGM has joined the gray pool in Memphis, a win for those advocating for truckers to use any chassis for any container to eliminate chassis splits and other inefficiencies that cost shippers money.
28 Feb 2020
COSCO Shipping and OOCL again handled the largest share of US container imports from Asia in 2019, while CMA CGM and APL maintained the top spot in westbound US–Asia trade, despite declining overall volumes.
24 Jan 2020
Carriers’ growing experience in reducing short-term capacity without having to resort to more disruptive actions like eliminating full services is a profound change in the market that will help the carriers absorb blows that in the past would wipe away profits like a dustrag.
24 Dec 2019
With growth in trade between Asia and North America projected to continue at a slow, steady pace in 2020, container carriers will be focused on keeping a floor on rates and recouping the added cost of low-sulfur fuels.
18 Dec 2019
Cargo no-shows are down 75 percent on freight booked via the Maersk Spot guaranteed online booking platform, according to the container carrier.
31 Oct 2019
Despite reporting a profitable second quarter, the Japanese container carrier has reduced its full-year earnings forecast by nearly one-third, citing concerns over a worsening global economic environment and an expected increase in bunker costs.
19 Aug 2019
Carrier market share in the trans-Pacific is not expected to change much in the next few months, in part because carriers will manage capacity by blanking individual sailings and deploying extra-loader vessels to handle import surges.
15 Aug 2019
It was a modest second quarter result, but Maersk Line continues to improve its profitability by improving reliability and resisting any temptation to chase market share.
14 Aug 2019
Evergreen Marine has plunged deeper into the mega-ship operating space, ordering another 11 ships in addition to the 11 that are already being built and delivered.
New strategies of CMA CGM, Maersk familiar, but bolder
12 Jul 2019
Carriers are going beyond setting up logistics arms and instead making the end-to-end reach a full company play rather than standalone attempt to offer the higher value and margin services as the NVOs they compete and partner with.
The new oligopoly of container shipping
04 Jul 2019
Carriers and shippers alike must adapt to the new realities of a container shipping market in which only a handful of large players control the vast majority of capacity.
28 Jun 2019
Spot rates in the eastbound trans-Pacific this week got a pop from the pending July 1 GRIs, but economists are predicting a slow-growth year for the US economy, and carriers’ only hope to keep pricing from declining this peak season is to manage capacity through blank sailings.
25 Jun 2019
The shipping sector is lacking investments in effective carbon reducing technologies, threatening to miss IMO 2050 targets for decarbonization, according to a recent report from CDP.
20 Jun 2019
The 90-day suspension from the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism means the container line will no longer enjoy “trusted trader” status, increasing the likelihood of import shipment delays.
Carriers carving out a leading position in blockchain through TradeLens and securing a foothold in Internet of Things-based track-and-trace data through Traxens must be viewed chiefly as a competitive maneuver.
03 Jun 2019
After years of undercutting each other on rates to gain market share and the resulting waves of consolidation, large container carriers seem to have come to a realization that they will sink or swim together.
Carriers signal blank sailing restraint
29 May 2019
The Ocean Alliance’s announcement of three blank sailings in June puts carriers and BCOs on alert that additional cancellations are likely if shipments from China continue to drop in the coming months.
29 May 2019
The French shipping group will rationalize its container carrier brands, with APL serving the trans-Pacific, Asia-Indian Subcontinent, Asia-Oceania, and US-flag trades, ANL focusing on Oceania, and CNC on intra-Asia.
20 May 2019
A proposal to impose mandatory speed limits on ocean vessels faces an uncertain future after being tabled at last week’s meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee.
16 May 2019
In the latest step in the ocean carrier’s transformation into a “global integrator” of container logistics, Maersk Line has folded in the inland services formerly operated by APM Terminals.
16 May 2019
Digital Container Shipping Association officials say improving standards around cargo visibility is a top priority of the new carrier coalition.
14 May 2019
The European Commission is eyeing Cosco’s deepening reach into the European port sector, as well as the broader issue of state subsidies to Asia-based carriers and shipyards.
14 May 2019
Adding five new members may give the Digital Container Shipping Association the quorum needed to press forward with the development of standard data protocols.
10 May 2019
The Chinese state-run ocean carrier and fellow Asia-based lines are slowly revealing plans that tilt toward deeper logistics services beyond conventional ocean shipping, with a distinctive Asian focus.
09 May 2019
Most beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and NVOs are agreeing to pay higher base rates this year in the hope that container carriers will be less inclined to hit them with premiums of as much as $1,000 per container, as occurred during the peak autumn months last year.
07 May 2019
Container carriers will have to remove nearly every vessel from service for at least a week to transition to low-sulfur fuel as mandated by the IMO, but BCOs hope that carriers don't use this as a way to manipulate capacity during the peak season.
06 May 2019
The container carrier’s latest efforts to provide integrated, end-to-end logistics services is helping it to make inroads in the Indian cold chain market.
01 May 2019
Container carrier schedule reliability in the eastbound trans-Pacific has bounced back from record lows in early 2019 but still lags global on-time performance by quite a bit.
01 May 2019
Post-consolidation, US container trade has been dominated by the largest ocean carriers and alliances, but smaller, independent lines continue to find a market in the trans-Pacific.
28 Apr 2019
Chinese state-owned Cosco Shipping is one of several Asian and European ocean carriers that are increasingly focused on providing customers with deeper logistics services that go beyond conventional ocean shipping strategies.
26 Apr 2019
The merged container operations of Japan's three largest ocean carriers got off to a dismal start as it launched operations in April 2018, which helped drag down revenue.
29 Mar 2019
Container lines with the financial muscle — or state backing — are forging ahead with strategies aimed at controlling a greater portion of the container supply chain.
Rotterdam port.
30 Jan 2019
The injection of vessels comes as demand growth of Asia-Europe westbound volume slows.
Port of Los Angeles.
30 Jan 2019
Container and chassis dwell times in Los Angeles-Long Beach edged lower in December.
Blockchain and container shipping.
29 Jan 2019
New research shows blockchain technology has a way to go before convincing the majority of enterprises of its near-term value.
CMA CGM.
28 Jan 2019
CEVA Logistics wants shareholders to bear in mind the benefits of its strategic partnership with CMA CGM and turn down a bid by the carrier, highlighting the growth inherent in the company.
Mundra Port.
24 Jan 2019
India relaxed cobotage rules in May to allow any ocean carrier to transport goods.

Commentary

Three issues will have a major impact on the container shipping world for all stakeholders in 2019: trade squabbles, carrier capacity management, and low-sulfur fuel cost recovery.

More Commentary