Global Freight Forwarding 2021

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Freight forwarding market remains highly volatile but the latest growth and forecasts show recovery is underway.

Ti’s latest report, Global Freight Forwarding 2021, shows the post-Covid-19 global forwarding market is settling in to its recovery phase after dramatic contractions in 2020. However, market dynamics are still skewed with limited capacity available and sky high freight rates. These conditions are presenting a challenging market for shippers and opportunities for forwarders to secure high margins.

The report’s latest market forecasts show that the market has begun its recovery, with 11.6% predicted growth for 2021 and a CAGR of 5% from 2020-2025.

Alongside market forecasts the report also provides a view of the future of both the air and sea freight forwarding markets and an outlook for volume, price and capacity development for the rest of 2021. It also examines the performance of freight forwarders in detail and how many of the larger players managed to achieve record margins.

Digital software trends and the race to provide the best combination digital services, freight handling capability and overall customer service are shaping the market as digital becomes the benchmark for services from start-up and established players alike.

This report contains:

  • Market sizing including 2021, 2020, and 5 year post Covid-19 growth rates, 2020-2025
  • In depth evaluation of the digital freight forwarding landscape and freight forwarding software
  • Analysis of the future of container shipping, including a breakdown of the volatility within container shipping
  • Analysis of the state of the air freight market
  • Comparative profiles of the largest freight forwarding companies including market position, revenue & volumes and sustainability practices
  • Detailed analysis of the present and future of freight forwarding

This report contains:

  • Market sizing including 2021, 2020, and 5 year post Covid-19 growth rates, 2020-2025
  • In depth evaluation of the digital freight forwarding landscape and freight forwarding software
  • Analysis of the future of container shipping, including a breakdown of the volatility within container shipping
  • Analysis of the state of the air freight market
  • Comparative profiles of the largest freight forwarding companies including market position, revenue & volumes and sustainability practices
  • Detailed analysis of the present and future of freight forwarding

Key questions the report asks and answers:

  • How fast is the market expected to grow throughout 2021? And how will the market recover from the decline experienced in 2020?
  • How are various freight forwarding software technologies impacting the market? And how are they challenging the state of play?
  • What are the key issues faced by the air freight market over the coming months?
  • What is the future for air freight?
  • How will sea freight volumes recover?
  • How are freight forwarders making their operations more sustainable?
  • How have freight forwarders performed throughout the pandemic, and what’s their outlook for growth?
  • What's the best digitalisation strategy for my business?
  • Will capacity crunches and high freight rates continue?

Exclusive highlights

  • The Global forwarding market is expected to bounce back from a difficult 2020, with 11.6% predicted growth for 2021.
  • Air and sea freight rates remain at record levels and are highly volatile following the disruption of the pandemic.
  • In 2021 Ti expects the air freight market to expand by 14.9%, and sea freight is forecast to grow by 7.6%.
  • Volumes declined sharply in 2020 but high freight rates sustained forwarding revenue and improved margins. In 2020 average margins were 7.5%
  • Digital forwarders are becoming increasingly competitive with established forwarders on the provision of value added and end-to-end services with network expansions and acquisitions of key assets.
  • Freight forwarders have generally performed very well over the course of the pandemic, having taken advantage of high freight rates to retain revenues and raise margins to an average of 7.5%.
Professor John Manners-Bell
John is Chief Executive of Ti, Honorary Visiting Professor at the London Metropolitan University’s Guildhall Faculty of Business and Law and an adviser to the World Economic Forum. He has over 25 years’ experience working in and analysing the global logistics sector.
 
Thomas Cullen
Thomas is a widely respected writer and has been analyzing the global logistics market for over 15 years. He has edited a number of international publications and written for most of the leading trade publications in Europe. He has written several in-depth reports on a variety of subjects including Automotive and Chemical logistics. Thomas has been vital in adding value to Ti’s Logistics Briefing service for the last 10 years and works on many global consultancy projects.
 
Viki Keckarovska

Viki is a research analyst with vast experience in the design, implementation and analysis of electronic and person-to-person surveys. Having worked across a number of sectors, including retail, luxury goods and FMCG, Violeta is experienced in gaining valuable insights across brand perception, voice of customer and strategic re-positioning intelligence campaigns for B-to-B and B-to-C clients. As a member of the Market Research Society, Violeta brings best practice in research, insight and analytics across Ti.

Andy Ralls
Andy is a quantitative analyst at Ti. He graduated from the University of Southampton with a Mathematics with Finance degree in 2014. In his studies, he chose a final year project on actuarial modelling and forecasting and enjoyed modules on statistical distribution theory, financial mathematics and macroeconomics.
 
 

1.0 Airfreight in 2021: A Wild Ride

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Economic Drivers of Air Freight

1.2.1 Global Economy

1.3 Market Characteristics

1.3.1 Charters

1.3.2 Internet Retailing

1.3.3 Semiconductors

1.3.4 The Inventory Cycle

1.3.5 The Supply-side

1.3.6 Belly freight

1.3.7 Market short-term demand

1.4 The future of Airfreight

1.4.1 Short-term Prospects

1.4.2 Long Term Prospects

2.0 Volatility and Rates in Container Shipping

2.1 Demand Profile

2.2 Demand Volume

2.3 Geographical Trade Patterns

2.4 Demand & Supply Balance

2.5 Blanking

2.6 Consolidation in the market

2.7 Profit Margins

2.8 Freight Rates

2.9 Bunker Fuel

2.10 Prospects

3.0 The Future of the Containerized Shipping Industry

3.1 Introduction: The Imperative of ‘Economies of Scale’

3.1.1 The Reality of Larger Ships

3.2 From Economies of Scale to Value Add

3.3 Is Reliance on Shipping Alliances to fill ships sustainable?

3.4 How will Digital Affect Shipping Lines?

3.4.1 Digitization of documentation

3.4.2 Digitalized platforms

3.4.3 Blockchain

3.5 Increased Sustainability

3.5.1 Not Ambitious Enough?

3.5.2 Emissions Trading System

3.5.2.1 The EU ETS works on the 'cap and trade' principle

3.5.3 More Slow Steaming

3.5.4 Alternative Power

3.6 Conclusion

4.0 The Global Freight Forwarding Digital landscape

4.1 The state of freight forwarding digitalisation

4.2 Myth busting – Confronting four common perceptions about digital freight forwarding start-ups 4.2.1 Myth 1. Digital start-ups cannot offer value-added services successfully

4.2.2 Myth 2. Digital start-ups don’t have the right infrastructure, processes and people to carry out the many physical steps required

4.2.3 Myth 3. Digital start-ups are not designed to manage substantial volumes from large shippers

4.2.4 Myth 4. Digital start-ups lack scale, buying power and established relationships with shippers and carriers

4.3 Competitive Landscape in the Digital Freight Forwarding Market

4.3.1 Competitive landscape of traditional forwarders

4.3.2 Comparative analysis of digital and traditional forwarders

4.3.3 Conclusion

4.4 Value proposition of digital start-ups and incumbents for shippers and carriers

4.4.1 Digital Freight Marketplaces – value proposition

4.4.2 Digital Freight Forwarders – Value Proposition

4.4.3 Captive Freight Forwarders - Value Proposition

4.4.4 Visibility Platforms – Value Proposition

77 4.5 Profiles of Selected Digital Forwarders

4.5.1 Flexport

4.5.2 Forto

4.5.3 iContainers

4 4.5.4 Zencargo

5.0. Global Freight Forwarding Software

5.1 Freight Forwarding Software - Definition, Benefits and Functions

5.1.1 The risks of using legacy systems

5.1.2 Benefits of freight forwarding software

5.1.2.1 Automation and increased productivity

5.1.2.2 Transparency and Visibility

5.1.2.3 Operational and Financial control

5.1.2.4 Cost optimisation

5.1.2.5 Business growth

5.1.3 Primary functions and modules of freight forwarding software

5.1.3.1 Modules of freight forwarding software

5.1.4 The value of cloud-based freight forwarding software

5.1.4.1 Benefits

5.1.5 Categories of Freight Forwarding Software - Market Map

5.1.6 Freight Forwarding Software

5.1.6.1 White-Label Platforms for Forwarders / Client Facing software

5.1.6.2 Rate Management Software

5.1.6.3 Visibility Software

 5.1.5.4 Niche Software

5.1.5.5 Software Integration

5.2 Building freight forwarding software capability for the future: The route to the market of today: CargoWise vs the rest

5.2.1 Use of freight forwarding software by freight forwarders

5.2.1.1 Build or buy?

5.2.1.2 Advantages of using third-party solutions

5.2.1.3 Advantages of proprietary in-house developed solutions

5.2.2 Software strategy of large and small and medium size forwarders

5.2.3 Reality check – the practicalities of operating and switching to another software

5.2.4 Case Studies

5.2.4.1 DHL Global Forwarding

5.2.4.2 DSV Panalpina Agility

5 5.2.4.3 DB Schenker

5.2.4.4 E.T.H. Cargo

5.3 Competitive Landscape of the Freight Forwarding Software Market

5.3.1 Established Software Providers vs Start-Ups

5.3.2 Comparison of Capabilities

5.3.3 Comparison of Customer Strategies

5.4 Top Freight Forwarding Software Providers and Start-Ups

5.6 Conclusion

5.7 Software vendor profiles

5.7.1 WiseTech – CargoWise

5.7.2 Descartes Systems Group

5.7.3 BluJay Solutions

5.7.4 Slync.io

5.7.5 Logixboard

5.7.6 Chain.io

6.0 Global Freight Forwarding Market Sizing & Growth

6.1. Global Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.1.1 Global Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.1.2 Global Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

.1.3 Global Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

 6.1.4 Key Assumptions

6.2 Air Freight Forwarding Market Sizing & Growth

6.2.1 Air Freight Forwarding Market Sizing & Growth 2020

6.2.2 Air Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.2.3 Air Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.3 Sea Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.3.1 Sea Freight Forwarding Market Sizing & Growth 2020

6.3.2 Sea Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.3.3 Sea Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025

 

6.4 Asia Pacific Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.4.1 Asia Pacific Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.4.2 Asia Pacific Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.4.3 Asia Pacific Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

 6.5 Europe Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.5.1 Europe Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.5.2 Europe Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.5.3 Europe Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.6 Middle East & North Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.6.1 Middle East & North Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.6.2 Middle East & North Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.6.3 Middle East & North Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.7 North America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.7.1 North America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.7.2 North America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.7.3 North America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.8.1 Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.8.2 Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.8.3 Russia, Caucasus & Central Asia Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.9 South America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.9.1 South America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.9.2 South America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.9.3 South America Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.10 Sub-Saharan Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth

6.10.1 Sub-Saharan Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2020

6.10.2 Sub-Saharan Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2021 (F)

6.10.3 Sub-Saharan Africa Freight Forwarding Market Size & Growth 2025 (F)

6.11 Global Freight Forwarding Top 20s

6.11.1 Top 20 Global Freight Forwarders by Revenue and Market Shares

6.11.2 Top 20 Global Air Freight Forwarders by Revenue and Market Share

6.11.3 Top 20 Global Air Freight Forwarders by Tonnes and Market Shares

6.11.4 Top 20 Global Sea Freight Forwarders by Revenue and Market Shares

6.11.5 Top 20 Global Sea Freight Forwarders by TEUs and Market Shares

7.0 Global Freight Forwarding Providers

7.1 Global Freight Forwarders Comparative Analysis

7.1.1. Revenue comparison

7.1.2 Sea freight volume and revenue comparison

7.1.3 Air freight volume and revenue comparison

7.3 Sustainability Strategy

7.3.1 Strategies & Targets

7.4 Forwarder service mix comparison

8.0 Global Freight Forwarding Providers

8.1 Agility

8.1.1 Background

8.1.2 Finances

8.1.3 Operations

8.1.4 Global Integrated Logistics (GIL)

8.1.5 Air Freight

8.1.6 Ocean Freight

8.1.7 Shipa Freight

8.1.8 Strategic Outlook

8.1.9 DSV Panalpina & Agility GIL

8.2 Bolloré

8.2.1 Background

8.2.2. Finances

8.2.3 Bolloré Transportation & Logistics

8.2.4 Bolloré Logistics

8.2.5 Bolloré Africa Logistics

8.2.6 Operations

8.2.6 Strategic Outlook

8.2.7 Technology

8.3.1 Background

8.3.2 Network

8.3.3 Volumes

8.3.4 Finances

8.3.5 myCEVA

8.3.6 CEVA and CMA CGM

8.3.7 Strategic outlook

8.3.8 Joint ventures

8.4 DB Schenker

8.4.1 Background

8.4.2 Finances

8.4.3 Operations

8.4.4 Air/Ocean freight

8.4.5 Strategic outlook

8.5 DHL Global Forwarding, Freight

8.5.1 Background

8.5.2 Finances

8.5.3 Air freight

8.5.4 Ocean freight

.5.5 IT roll-out challenges

8.5.6 myDHLi

8.5.7 Strategic outlook

8.6 DSV Panalpina

8.6.1 Background

8.6.2 Panalpina integration

8.6.3 Finances

8.6.4 Volumes

8.6.5 myDSV

8.6.6. Strategic outlook

8.7.1 Background

8.7.2 Operations

8.7.3 Finances

8.7.4 Airfreight

8.7.5 Ocean Freight

8.7.6 Strategic outlook

8.8 Kuehne + Nagel (K+N)

8.8.1 Background

8.8.2 Finances

8.8.3 Network and Volumes

8.8.4 myKN

8.8.5 Strategic outlook

8.9.1 Background

8.9.2 LX Group

8.9.3 Operations

8.9.4 Finances

 8.9.5 Sea freight

8.9.6 Air freight

8.9.7 Technology

8.9.8 Tapping into the Belt and Road Initiative

8.9.9 SME and SMB’s business opportunities

8.9.10 Strategic outlook

8.10 Sinotrans

8.10.1 Background

8.10.2 Operations

8.10.3 Sea Freight and Air Freight Volumes

8.10.4 Finances

8.10.5 Forwarding and related business

8.10.6 Expansion

8.10.7 Technology

8.10.8 Strategic outlook - Five-year plan

 

 

 

 

Freight forwarding market recovering with growth expected at 8.7% in 2021 as volumes return and rates remain high

17th June, 2021, Bath, UK – Transport Intelligence’s (Ti), latest report, Global Freight Forwarding 2021, shows the post-Covid-19 global forwarding market is settling in to its recovery phase after dramatic contractions in 2020. However, market dynamics remain skewed with limited capacity available and sky high freight rates presenting a challenging market for shippers and opportunities for forwarders to secure high margins.

  • The Global Freight Forwarding market contracted by 8.7% in 2020, but is expected to bounce back strongly with growth of 11.6% in 2021 and a CAGR of 5% from 2020-2025.
  • Air freight is set to grow at 14.9% in 2021 and at a CAGR of 5.4% from 2020-2025.
  • Sea freight is set to grow at 7.6% in 2021 and at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2020-2025.
  • Volumes declined sharply in 2020 but high freight rates sustained forwarding revenue and improved margins. In 2020 average margins were 5%
  • Air and sea freight rates remain at record levels and are highly volatile following the disruption of the pandemic resulting in a capacity crunch and swings in volumes
  • Digital forwarders are becoming increasingly competitive with established players as they invest in assets and customer service teams alongside their tech to enable more end-to-end and value added services.

The Global Freight Forwarding market contracted by 8.7% in 2020, recording its worst year since the financial crisis as a result of the pandemic. The sea freight forwarding market contracted by 3.8% in 2020, but air freight forwarding suffered worse with a decline of 12.3%. However, The freight forwarding market is expected to bounce back strongly with growth of 11.6% in 2021 and a CAGR of 5% from 2020-2025 as volumes recover.

The sea freight forwarding market is set to grow at 7.6% in 2021 and at a CAGR of 4.5% from 2020-2025. Growth in 2021 will be largely be driven by the bounce back in volumes from 2020, particularly in Q2 2021 vs Q2 2020. Sea freight forwarding growth out to 2025 will be driven by the ongoing recovery in volumes, modal switches from air to sea and new trade agreements generating more trade.

Air freight forwarding is set to grow at 14.9% in 2021 and at a CAGR of 5.4% from 2020-2025. Growth in 2021 is largely driven by a recovery of volumes from 2020 and very high freight rates. Longer term growth out to 2025 will be driven by a recovery in global trade and strong growth in air freight intensive sectors like high tech, pharmaceuticals and cross-border e-commerce.

The new report also shows that amid all the disruption to the air freight market the top 20 freight forwarders have significantly increased their share of overall volumes, from 65.05% in 2019 to 74.89% in 2020. The top 20 actually increased the air freight volumes they handled in 2020, despite market volumes declining by 12.50%. Coupled with the high air freight rates that persisted through 2020, this led to a very good year for large forwarders. The sea freight market also saw volumes decline from 2019, with 9.95% fewer containers handled in 2020. Nevertheless, capacity constraints and high freight rates enabled the top 20 forwarders to broadly maintain their revenues, even though they carried 7.49% fewer containers than in 2019.

The new report provides a view of the future of both the air and sea freight forwarding markets and an outlook for volume, price and capacity development for the rest of 2020. It also examines the performance of freight forwarders in detail and how many of the larger players managed to achieve record margins, with the average freight forwarding margin for 2020 increasing to 7.5%.

The report also examines the developing digital freight forwarding landscape. There is a new market map for the digital landscape and profiles of the major players to show how their capabilities are developing. The latest analysis highlights how they are increasingly competing with established forwarders with a full suite of end-to-end value added services and acquiring key assets to enable this, all underpinned by their technological base.

Global Freight Forwarding 2021 also drills down in to technology further, taking a closer look at the software that underpins freight forwarding services, assessing the strategies pursued by different forwarders to develop their capabilities and providing profiles of the solutions available on the market.

The latest news from the market of consolidation among the top players corroborates Ti’s view that we are likely to see further M&A activity among freight forwarders through 2021. But the report also explains that it is likely we will also see considerable M&A activity involving the digital players and software entrants which are competing to capture the growth of digitalization in the market.  

This report is perfect for:

  • Supply chain managers and directors
  • Logistics procurement managers
  • Global manufacturers
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Marketing managers
  • Knowledge managers
  • Investors
  • All C-level executives

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