High-cube containers continue to grow in popularity
According to Drewry’s recently published 2014 Container Census report, high-cube, 40-foot containers, which it said will represent nearly 50 percent of the fleet, are cutting into the market for traditional 40-foot containers.
Normal containers have an exterior width of eight feet, a length of either 20 feet or 40 feet, and height of eight feet, six inches. High-cube containers have a height of nine feet, six inches. They are popular with shippers of lighter cargo.
Drewry said the overall fleet of maritime 40-foot, high-cube containers grew by more than 7 percent in 2013, a much faster pace than the global container fleet, which only grew by 4.3 percent.
“Gains made in the maritime standard fleet came wholly at the expense of standard 40-foot equipment, whose count continued to decline, although the 20-foot share held stable at about a third,” said Andrew Foxcroft, editor of "Drewry’s Container Census 2014." “These long-term changes in the fleet composition are predicted to continue through 2014-17.”
Growth in the overall container equipment fleet was slower in 2013 than in 2012, when it grew at a 5.3 percent, but in line with the 5-year average of 4 percent. Before 2009, fleet growth had been closer to 10 percent annually, and officials said while this indicates more equipment demand, it also points to the impact of weaker trade growth.
“Drewry is forecasting that the global box fleet will grow by around 5 percent a year through 2014-17, with growth in the leased fleet set to continue to outpace that of the owned fleet,” added Foxcroft. “Leasing firms remain better placed to invest in box equipment than shipping lines, many of which are still short of capital and so continue to be reliant on rental support.”
Drewry said that global box production is not expected to increase much over the short term, following a decade in which the underlying rate of annual production has changed little (around 3 million TEU). However, China International Marine Containers Group announced earlier this month plans to build a new container factory in Ningbo.