Deployed capacity will be too high for the “low season”

Danish shipping data analysis company Sea-Intelligence estimates that deployed capacity on key Asian container export routes to Western consumer markets during the 2023 Chinese New Year season will exceed the levels of 2021, which was characterized by record high demand for transportation. A further drop in freight rates should be expected under these conditions.

The Chinese New Year holiday period is the traditional “low season” for the container shipping market, driven by a sharp slowdown in manufacturing activity in Asia. Shipping lines reduce traffic during this period to bring supply in line with demand.

In 2020, the low season lasted longer due to the Covid pandemic. The lines saw little reduction in capacity in 2021 and 2022 due to continued strong demand.

According to Sea-Intelligence, the planned low-season capacity in early 2023 will exceed on average more than a third both 2019 levels and the average capacity during the Chinese New Year period in 2016-2019.

Asia-Mediterranean is the only trade lane that is closer to the pre-pandemic levels - it will exceed the level of 2019 by only 17%. We see the greatest growth in the Asia-US Atlantic coast segment – +57% compared to 2019.