Reefer container freight rates across global trades rose over 50% in the year to 2Q22, matching gains made in dry cargo pricing, and are estimated to increase further in 3Q22, outpacing dry box rates. Some stabilization is already underway on some reefer trades, and this is expected to be followed by modest declines through 2023 as cargo owners push back on unsustainable freight rate increases, according to Drewry’s recently published Reefer Shipping Annual Review and Forecast 2022/23 Report.
Drewry’s Global Reefer Container Freight Rate Index, a weighted average of rates across the top 15 reefer-intensive trade routes, rose 50.4% YoY in 2Q22, and the 3Q22 reading is expected to climb further, though the pace of growth will slow (see chart).
East-West routes have seen only modest freight rate increases over the last four quarters, as capacity pressure has eased thanks to the softening pork trade from both Europe and North America to Asia. The exception has been the westbound Transatlantic which saw volume jump as much as 9% in the year to 2Q21, while average freight rates doubled over the same period.