Demonstrated resilience is due in part to the reduction of the specialized refrigerated fleet.
Refrigerated container freight rates continue to outpace dry cargo rates, despite an unprecedented contraction in refrigerated shipping last year.
Although demand has been steadily recovering since the beginning of the year, demonstrating the resilience of the sector.
If anything, this divergence is expected to continue over the next few years, according to Drewry’s Reefer Shipping Annual Review and Forecast report.
The expected normalization of refrigerated trade and the consequent correction of freight rates have proven to be more gradual than for dry container shipping.
Increasing and resilient
Drewry estimates that total refrigerated cargo transported by sea worldwide fell to 137.5 million tonnes last year, representing a drop of almost 1%, the first decline in more than 20 years.
Supply chain disruptions, increased input costs, and the normalization of demand for perishable cargo after the 2021 peaks contributed to this decline.
As a result, major chilled products such as meat, bananas and fresh vegetables were affected in 2022.
Looking ahead, refrigerated shipping is positioned to surpass dry container shipping with projected average annual growth of 3.6% through 2027.
As a result, the anticipated drop in reefer container freight rates will remain more measured than for the dry sector and still positioning itself above pre-pandemic levels in 2024.