A COMPARISON of freight forwarders and carriers between 2008 and 2012 found the volume of cargo arranged by large forwarders was more volatile than that moved by carriers, according to Copenhagen-based consulting firm SeaIntel said.
"When times are tough and demand is dwindling, the NVOCCs (non-vessel-operating common carriers) see liftings decrease faster than carriers, and conversely see them growing faster when the market picks up," said SeaIntel in its Sunday Spotlight newsletter.
"The advantage of this flexibility can be seen by comparing the financial results from the carriers and forwarders. As an example, the container industry is estimated to have lost around US$20 billion in 2009 during the height of the financial crisis - in the same period the major NVOCCs made a profit," the firm said.
SeaIntel said its analysis found COSCO, Hanjin, Mediterranean Shipping Co, APL and Maersk Line are the five carriers that experienced the highest growth rate in lifted volumes from 2008 to 2012, while at the other end of the scale RCL, CSAV, SITC, Hapag-Lloyd and Zim have not exceeded their 2008 level yet, according to American Shipper.
It found the forwarders Hellmann Logistics, DB Schenker and Kuehne & Nagel have experienced the highest growth rate from 2008 to 2012.
Chief operating officer and partner in SeaIntel, Alan Murphy, said "our analysis shows that the carriers and forwarders have grown their volumes at an almost similar pace since 2008. However, the difference is that the forwarders saw their volumes dwindle more than the carriers in 2009 and the forwarders have experienced a larger increase in volumes in 2011 and 2012, compared to the carriers."
SeaIntel found forwarders have experienced an extremely stable development in their profit during the period, while the carriers' development continues to be highly volatile.