Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen put a positive spin on the container shipping downturn during a conference call Thursday as his company logged yet another quarter for the record books.
“I don’t think the bottom is falling out of the market,” maintained the head of the world’s fifth-largest ocean carrier.
“When you look at volume and demand, we saw a very steep decline in weeks 34 and 35 [the last two weeks of August]. Then things rebounded a bit. Ever since Golden Week [the first week of October], it has been up and down. It was relatively weak last week. This week started stronger. It’s quite volatile.”
Container Trades Statistics reported a 25% year-on-year drop in trans-Pacific volumes and 9% drop in global volumes in September. “The global economy is certainly not shrinking 10-20%,” said Habben Jansen, who argued that “a significant element here is a correction of inventory.”
“We had a long time where a lot of boxes got stuck in global supply chains. With the easing of congestion, those are now being delivered to the warehouses, which probably filled up quicker than anticipated. People logically reacted by saying, ‘I’d better slow down a bit with new orders.’”
High inventories lead to a “short-term drop in volume,” he said. “There’s always the question: Is it mainly caused by an inventory correction or is it weakening demand? I’d say it’s probably a little of both.”
Read more in an article from American Shipper.