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Freight Market Update: September 30, 2023

Container truck in ship port for business Logistics

Ocean freight market update 

China–North America

  • Rate changes: Spot rates from China to North America experienced relatively modest declines on both the west and east coasts since mid-September. These declines were attributed to decreased demand in the lead-up to a major holiday in China. However, it is noteworthy that more blank sailings are scheduled for post-holiday periods, indicating an anticipation of continued weak volume.
  • Market changes: Industry analysis reveals a decline of approximately 6% year-on-year in import container throughput at US west coast ports for August, while the east coast saw a more substantial drop of around 18%. Bleaker outcomes are expected for September. Concurrently, the average ocean capacity deployed on the Asia to North America routes increased by approximately 20%. This disparity between demand and capacity will continue to exert downward pressure on rates in the forthcoming weeks.


  • Rate changes: Container spot rates from China to North Europe experienced a dramatic decline last week, plummeting to under $1,000 per 40ft container. This represents a staggering 30%+ decrease within a single week, and almost half the price compared to the beginning of September. This week, rates appear to persist in their descent on this lane. Similarly, rates from China to the Mediterranean have declined for three consecutive weeks, although the decline was not as pronounced, registering approximately 25% lower rates than at the start of the month.
  • Market changes: The recent rate crashes in the transatlantic lanes have signaled the end of earlier attempts by carriers to limit capacity through blank sailings and contain rate decreases. Weak European demand for imports from Asia, combined with an influx of new capacity into the market, continue to exert downward pressure on rates, with no apparent resolution in sight.

Air freight/Express market update

China–US and Europe

  • Rate changes: In the air cargo market, rates from Asia to North Europe and North America have both increased since the end of August, creating a “distinctly firmer tone” in the airfreight sector, as noted by industry index observers.
  • Market changes: Multiple industry reports indicate signs of improvement in the air cargo market, with notable demand increases, particularly originating from Asia. The launch of Apple’s new products has provided a boost to airfreight, as has the consistent flow of e-commerce shipments, which have become a staple for airline cargo capacity.

Disclaimer: All information and views in this post are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute any investment or purchase advice. The information quoted in this report is from public market documents and may be subject to change. Alibaba.com makes no warranties or guarantees for the accuracy or integrity of the information above.

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