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Reefer rates defy global spot trends on North Europe to Far East trades

While spot rates for ‘dry standard’ FEUs are declining on the world’s key global trading corridors, the rates for equivalent reefers are bucking the trend on the North Europe to Far East route.

According to the latest market intelligence from Xeneta, which crowd sources real-time ocean freight rate data from leading shippers, the average 40’ HC reefer spot rate stood at a mighty USD 5 230 for the trade on 23 August, compared to dry standard FEUs at USD 980. At this point two years ago, September 2020, the reefer spot rate was USD 4 000.

Converging curves

“This is interesting for a number of reasons,” comments Peter Sand, Chief Analyst, Xeneta. “One is the steady increase, albeit with a dip in August, in the reefer spot rates, but also the fact that the spot rates are still above the long-term contracted agreements is noteworthy. That said, the long-term rates have also been increasing steadily (currently USD 4 850) and the spread between the two is diminishing.

“In fact, that divide is now at its narrowest since November 2019, so we’ll be looking out to see if, as on some other trades, the spot rates fall below the contracted ones. When we consider the recent development curve that wouldn’t be too surprising, as long-term rates have now climbed by an impressive 14.5% since the start of the year.”

To dry for?

As far as dry spot FEU rates on the North Europe to the Far East route are concerned, Sand highlights that they have been slipping away since June 2021, when they were close to USD 2 000.

“It’s been one-way traffic,” he notes. “The difference between reefers and standard 40’ containers has now opened up to USD 4 250 (23 August). From a broader perspective, that means the average spread between the two this year is approximately 2.5 times higher than it was in 2019. That’s a very significant gap.”

Sand adds that there’s also a divide between dry standard spot rates on this route compared to the Mediterranean to Far East corridor. Here 40’ containers command a price of USD 1 800, a USD 810 premium.

Shifting volumes

“That shows the value of accessing the latest data,” he concludes. “It’s a tough market at present, so knowing where, and what kind of container, offers the best value can make all the difference to those with the most flexible logistics chains.”

In the first six months of the year, 30.2% of reefer volumes exported from North Europe went to the Far East (Source: CTS). Reefer volumes on this trade have grown by 1.5% for the year to date in June, whereas the total reefer exports from North Europe have dropped by 1.3% for the same period.

Oslo-based Xeneta’s unique software platform compiles the latest ocean and air freight rate data aggregated worldwide to deliver powerful market insights. Participating companies include ABB, Electrolux, Continental, Unilever, Nestle, L’Oréal, Thyssenkrupp, Volvo Group and John Deere, amongst others.
Source: Xeneta

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