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-June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-March 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, January-September 2014

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, January-September 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 the First Half of 2013

Top 40 Carriers in US Containerized Trade in 2012

Special Coverage

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

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.
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.
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.
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.

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.

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