Among the sectors of the international shipping world, specialized reefer operators maintained a profitable niche for many years and helped numerous businesses transport their goods. Nowadays, things have changed. It has been very difficult in recent years for specialized reefer operators because the larger shipping lines have dived into their niche and are siphoning whatever clients they have left.
Drewry Maritime Research, a trusted source for ocean freight shipping, recently completed their annual review of the reefer market. They found that the volumes for shipping reefer by sea are shrinking and the market share is changing to help the larger shipping lines. These shipping lines are attracted to the reefer market because of the strong cargo growth and the better general rate increases. Currently, these shipping lines have been renting 40-foot high cube containers for the reefer shipments. And the reefer shipment market is projected to grow 17% in the next 5 years.
There is some hope for specialized reefer operators. They must reinvent themselves. Drewry Maritime Research concludes that diversity is the key for specialized reefer operators. Some of these companies are even purchasing newer vessels that will offer faster transit times and maybe better ocean container rates.
For those companies that depend on freight shipping, it might be best to avoid the specialized reefer operators and the larger shipping lines. A better option is to work with a freight forwarder who can negotiate a better rate with these carriers. That way, you can save money and a headache when shipping reefer.