Global Freight Forwarding 2019

Coming soon

Global Freight Forwarding 2019 provides a detailed look at major trends and drivers affecting the freight forwarding market in 2019 and beyond.

Knowing the forwarding market is changing is not enough – leaders need to know where the market is headed, how their competitors are reacting, and the steps to take today so they’re in a position to win tomorrow.

GFF19 examines key trends in forwarding that have and will continue to cause profound transformation. These are:

  • The state and disruption of global trade
  • The threats and opportunity tech-enabled forwarders face over the next 5 years
  • The changing role of freight forwarders in global supply chains

Key questions the report asks and answers:

  • What is the state of global trade today, and what opportunities and threats do forwarders face?
  • Can traditional forwarders react to the threat from digital platforms?
  • What role do SMEs play in global trade, and are the large forwarders set up to capture their business?
  • Do spot market platforms and digital forwarders have a future?
  • What drivers in the forwarding marker, in key vertical sectors and in regions across the world will bring about profound change over the next decade?
  • How quickly is the forwarding market growing globally, and by region and country?


Global Freight Forwarding 2019 will be available to download soon. To pre-order GFF19 please contact Michael Clover [email protected] or call on +44 (0) 1666 519907.

You can still purchase the 2018 version of the report by clicking the BUY NOW button. 


This report contains:

  • Market sizing including 2018 and 5-year CARG growth rates 2018-2023
  • Extensive, interview-based primary research from major players
  • An analysis of modal shift in forwarding
  • Forwarding 2030 Case Studies – Shifting automotive supply chains, Decarbonising logistics and China’s Belt & Road Initiative

This report contains:

  • Market sizing including 2018 and 5-year CARG growth rates 2018-2023
  • Extensive, interview-based primary research from major players
  • An analysis of modal shift in forwarding
  • Forwarding 2030 Case Studies – Shifting automotive supply chains, Decarbonising logistics and China’s Belt & Road Initiative

2018 Exclusive highlights

  • A case study on the development of battery technology and its impacts on forwarding in the high tech and automotive sectors from Ti’s CEO JMB
  • Ti’s exclusive GFF18 market sizing, which includes 5-year forecasts for the first ever time
  • Analysis of China’s European Landbridge and One Belt, One Road initiatives and the potential effects on modal shift in the forwarding market

2018 Exclusive highlights

  • The changing role of freight forwarders – Ti has undertaken an extensive interview-based research programme with many of the world’s top 20 forwarders, leading freight platforms and industry players to determine the direction of the market and the strategies employed to meet challenges over the next 5 years.

Global freight forwarding market sees rapid growth in 2017 as large forwarders seek to transform themselves from within

  • The global freight forwarding market grew by 8.0% in 2017 – a rapid expansion compared with recent years and the biggest annual gain since 2010
  • The forwarding market and its largest players are embracing technology as they seek to transform their operations from within
  • The entry of ‘tech forwarders’ – including digital forwarders and spot market platforms – has driven the largest forwarders to enhance their own technology usage and the capabilities they offer to shippers
  • Customer-centricity is at the top of the agenda as the world’s largest freight forwarders look to drive efficiency and establish new routes to market.

At 8.0% the global freight forwarding market grew at its quickest annual pace since 2010. This was driven by strong growth in both air and sea freight which both saw year-on-year increases, while forecasts reveal that sea freight is positioned to continue healthy growth over the short- to medium-term.

The changing role of freight forwarders in 2018

Perhaps more than ever, freight forwarding stands at a crossroads with forwarders large and small facing significant challenges and threats in a market characterized by strong growth and abundant opportunity.

Meeting the challenges and overcoming the threats requires forwarders embrace technology, drive scale and efficiency in their operations, and truly put shippers at the centre of their operations. These same drivers are also the clearest route forwarders have to capitalizing on the opportunities in today’s market. As such, Global Freight Forwarding 2018 examines in detail the strategies and technologies the world’s largest forwarders are using to position themselves for the future.

“At its core, forwarding remains a process of buying space and securing volumes, of ensuring goods reach destination on time and in good condition, and of building trust and lasting customer relationships. In 2018, we see and hear so much about logistics service providers moving to embrace advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain, it’s easy to miss that many of the world’s largest forwarders are renewing their focus on core activities and achieving higher service levels. After being caught unaware by the entry of a new breed of tech-enabled forwarders into the market, the traditional players have come to see technology as a force magnifier in value creation, but not as the centre of their offer,” said Nick Bailey, Head of Research at Transport Intelligence.

New in Global Freight Forwarding 2018

Alongside Ti’s Global Freight Forwarding market sizing, which for the first time includes 5-year compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) for the 2017-2022 period, is an in-depth analysis of the opportunities SMEs offer forwarders. It has long been an ambition of many of the world’s largest air and ocean forwarders to win additional business from SMEs. And with the widespread rollout of online freight quotation and booking platforms, there has been a renewed forwarder focus on SMEs.

“At present, SME business for forwarders is typically higher margin than that of large shippers. Interviews with senior forwarding sector stakeholders revealed that the enhanced price transparency of SME-targeting online rate quotation and booking platforms is having a negative effect on gross profit margins. However, lower process costs associated with a slicker front-end and greater automation of back-end processes mean there are cost savings to be realised. The extent to which these are achieved will be a key battleground for forwarders targeting SME business,” said David Buckby, Economist at Transport Intelligence.

To find out more about the repoert or Ti’s expertise in the freight forwarding market, including analysis of its market size and forecasts broken down by regions and countries, strategies of the major 3PLs, analysis of technologies in the industry and more, contact Michael Clover.



Nick Bailey

As Head of Research, Nick is responsible for all of Ti’s research products, including logistics market and vertical sector reports, as well as Ti’s flagship Global Supply Chain Intelligence (GSCi) market intelligence portal. Nick is actively involved in research for these product ranges, as well as in the development of new and existing research capabilities at Ti. Nick also coordinates the efforts of Ti’s team of researchers and analysts, and supports Ti’s consultancy offering for a global client base. Prior to joining Ti in 2013, he spent several successful years working in international trade and foreign direct investment, and has since developed specialisms in e-commerce, the road freight market and emerging market logistics working in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

David Buckby

Having obtained a Masters in Economics David is now Ti’s resident Economist. David manages one of Ti’s core strengths, that of quantitative analysis of a range of logistics markets, including sizing and forecasting. David contributes to the GSCi portal, Ti Reports and consultancy projects.


Andy Ralls 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.

Andy has since worked for a top accountancy firm and for a wealth management company. These experiences give him a strong understanding of company accounts and investment products and has given him a wider understanding of the financial sector.



2.1 Freight Forwarding Fundamentals_10

2.1.1 Globalisation & Trade Patterns_10

2.1.2 ‘Trade Wars’_13

2.1.3 Volume Growth _14

2.1.4 Rate Dynamics_15

2.1.5 The relationship between rates and margins_16

2.1.6 Modal Shift_17

2.1.7 4PLs, LLPs, & control towers _19

2.1.8 Technology _19

2.2 Global Trade Patterns_21

2.2.1 World trade by product group (US$bn)_21

2.2.2 Top 10 regional trade flows _ 22

2.3 Forwarding 2030 Case Studies_42

2.3.1 Batteries: powering the transformation of automotive supply chains – by Professor John Manners-Bell_42

2.3.2 Logistical implications of the fossil fuel phase out – by Professor Alan McKinnon_50

2.3.3 The Belt & Road Initiative_52


3.1 Can ‘tech forwarders’ disrupt the industry?_55

3.1.1 Introduction _ 55

3.1.2 What are the limitations of tech forwarders? _ 55

3.1.3 What are the opportunities for tech forwarders? _ 56

3.1.4 Is there a margin in offering basic, commoditized online forwarding services to SMEs?_57

3.1.5 How can tech forwarders secure higher margins? _ 59


3.1.6 So what is the future for tech forwarders? _  59

3.2 The SME opportunity _ 60

3.2.1 How large are SME trade volumes? _ 60

3.2.2 Are SME trade volumes growing faster than those of large shippers? _  62

3.2.3 How profitable is SME business for forwarders? _ 64


4.1 Global freight forwarding market size and forecast _ 66

4.2 Global air freight forwarding market size and forecast _ 69

4.3 Global sea freight forwarding market size and forecast _ 71

4.4 Asia Pacific freight forwarding market size and forecasts _ 73

4.5 Europe freight forwarding market size and forecasts _ 76

4.6 Middle East & North Africa freight forwarding market size and forecast _ 79

4.7 North America freight forwarding market size and forecast _ 81

4.8 Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia market size and forecast _  83

4.9 South America freight forwarding market size and forecast _ 84

4.10 Sub-Saharan Africa freight forwarding market size and forecast  _ 87

July 2018 Transport Intelligence Global Freight Forwarding 2018 2

5.0 Providers _ 89

5.1 Market Concentration _ 89

5.1.1 Market consolidation _ 90

5.2 Top 20s _ 91

5.2.1 Top 20 Global Air freight Forwarders by Revenue _ 91

5.2.2 Top 20 Global Air Freight Forwarders by Volume _ 92

5.2.3 Top 20 Global Sea Freight Forwarders by Revenue _ 93

5.2.4 Top 20 Sea Freight Forwarders by Volume _ 94

5.3 Margin Analysis  _ 96

5.3.1 Gross Profit Margin Analysis _ 97

5.3.2 EBIT Margins  _ 97

5.3.3 Conversion ratios (EBIT to gross profit ratio) _ 97

5.3.4 Conclusion _ 98

5.4 Provider Profiles _ 99

5.4.1 Agility _ 99

5.4.2 Bolloré _ 103

5.4.3 CEVA _ 108

5.4.4 DHL Global Forwarding _ 113

5.4.5 DB Schenker Logistics _117

5.4.6 DSV _121

5.4.7 Expeditors _ 126

5.4.8 Kuehne + Nagel _131

5.4.9 Panalpina _135

5.4.10 Sinotrans _ 142

ABOUT TI  _ 147


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