The fluctuating nature of the ocean cargo market continues to mirror the state of the global economy. This simple fact is evident in things like rate and contract volatility, unprecedented levels of port congestion, as well as continued service issues and capacity imbalances. These factors, all driven by elevated consumer demand levels, continue to present a challenging environment for shippers at a time when some stability would be welcomed.
Joining us in Logistics Management’s Annual Ocean Cargo Roundtable to assess these continued challenges and take a closer look at the current state of market dynamics are three of the industry’s foremost ocean cargo experts: Jon Monroe, president of Jon Monroe Consulting; Sarah Banks, managing director and global freight and logistics lead at Accenture; and Philip Damas, director and head of the supply chain advisors practice at London-based Drewry.
Logistics Management (LM): How do you view the prospects for a 2022 peak season? Or are we now in a period where peak is not the annual occurrence that it used to be?
Jon Monroe: Nothing is as it was since the beginning of the pandemic, least of all peak season. The volatility of container vessels due to blank sailings has caused a massive asset imbalance. Combine this with the surge caused by the change in consumer spending due to the shift to a “work at home” life along with the massive stimulus and it’s no wonder that we’ve had a surge that has lasted for two years.
With that, I don’t expect peak season this year to be as robust as 2021. To a certain extent, importers moved up their seasonal shipping and have already shipped products that are normally shipped in the traditional peak.