Steady Containerization of the Logistics Market. Irrefutable Facts

Global containerization trend in the logistics market is confirmed by container shipping statistics and the information provided by market experts. Here are several arguments confirming this trend.

Containerization of the non-containerized

The drive to ship cargoes previously considered non-containerized in containers has become a remarkable trend, which is especially noticeable in rail transportation market. For instance, according to the BCG, almost 100% of railway cargo shipments from China to Germany are transported in containers, which is explained by the dominance of container technology in both Chinese and German ports. This applies to building stone, metallic and non-metallic minerals, fuels and the like.

At one of the recent conferences (Containers and Container Transportation. Actual Issues, Ideas, Solutions), experts from Kotta Container shared their ideas about the development of innovative containers with the following functions – bottom discharge, car, warehouse and clamshell. Such container changes the concept of transportation and transshipment of dry bulk freights. The ICT (Innovative Container Technology) presented 20-foot ISO containers designed to transport non-bulk, dry and liquid cargoes, and constructed in a way allowing to switch form one cargo type to the other.

Refrigerated cargoes are shipped in containers

According to the statistical data from the Russian Railways as of January 2019, the overall refrigerator car fleet in the network decreased by 17.2% (the reduction of the working fleet was by 9.8%). At first glimpse, the figure is frightening, but, according to Andrey Lisovsky, Head of the Railway Transportation Department, TELS, this fact has its own reasons: “Box and refrigerator cars carry large shipments designed for one shipment and / or heavy cargo. For instance, refrigerated trains consist of 4 cars with one air-cooling unit and can contain 200 tons of cargo in total. Apparently, it is better to transport 60 tons of cargo in reefer containers in most cases.” “Anyway, transportation of refrigerated containers by rail is developing. And obviously, this trend has good commercial prospects, especially when such a global operator as Maersk plans to develop transportation of refrigerated containers from the ports of the Russian Federation by rail, ” the expert added.

Reduction of imports from the EU in support of container shipping market

To a certain extent, the reduction in imports from the EU contributes to the development of container market. According to Eurostat, the road freight transportations from the EU to the Russian Federation decreased by 2.3% in 2018. At the same time, road exports increased by 9.8%, but mainly due the export of wood, iron and steel (not container cargo).

Various reasons (sanctions, anti-sanctions, the weakening of the Russian ruble, etc.) are decreasing the competitiveness of the goods from Europe as compared with the similar goods from China and other Asian countries, which are cheaper. The overwhelming share of imports from the EU to the Russian Federation go by road, mainly in tent or refrigerated semi-trailers. Thus, the capacity of the maritime and rail cargo transportations in the eastern direction is increasing due to the goods most suitable for container transportation.

Andrey Lisovky: “The Chinese industry is already producing good advanced technology, which are not worse in their characteristics than the same products of the promoted global brands and are much cheaper, especially if the brands have not yet entered the world market. Businesses in the EEU countries are actively buying Chinese equipment for their needs or for sale as we can see from the requests of our customers. For them, rail container transportation is practically the only option as planes are expensive and sea is unacceptable in terms of time and safety. The value of the cargo allows to increase the delivery costs without affecting the cost of the imported goods seriously.”

The weakening of the national currency expected in the next two years and the decline in wage growth in Russia will reduce the demand for European goods and redistribute the imports in favor of cheaper goods from China. This in its turn should increase the capacity of rail container transportations both in relation to containers imported from ports and land transshipments from China.

Marketing Department of TELS Group of Companies

Sources:,,, BCG