Container Shipping Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2023 - 2028)

The Container Shipping Market is segmented by Size (Small, Large, and High Cube Containers), Type (General Container Shipping and Reefer Container Shipping), and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle-East and Africa, and South America).

Container Shipping Market Size

global container shipping market Size
Study Period: 2019 - 2028
Fastest Growing Market: Asia Pacific
Largest Market: North America
CAGR: > 5 %

Major Players

 global container shipping market Key players

*Disclaimer: Major Players sorted in no particular order


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Container Shipping Market Analysis

The container shipping market is expected to register a CAGR of more than 5% during the forecast period (2021-2026). The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through global maritime transport and laid the foundations for a transformed industry and associated supply chains. While the contraction of cargo volumes brought an additional challenge to structural market imbalance, the container shipping industry adopted more discipline, capacity, and reduced costs to maintain profitability. Global container shipping is showing a strong recovery, leaving behind the pandemic, as reported by AP Moller-Maersk and CMA-CGM (the world’s two largest container shipping lines).

The increase in volumes transported was due to the pick-up in global economic activity following the easing of various lockdown measures; the strong momentum in terms of the consumption of goods encouraged in some locations by support packages; strong e-commerce growth with inventory rebuilding; and the usual seasonal variation in business activity.

Despite the alarming headlines in H1 2020, container shipping proved extraordinarily buoyant in 2020 in terms of volumes and freight rates. After a 5 million TEU (7.3%) drop in volumes in the first five months of the year, volumes were down by only 1.7% (a loss of 2.6 million TEU – by the end of November 2020).

There also exists a huge potential for shipping containers in the rail freight and trucking industry. However, the factors, such as protectionist measures by some nations and high freight rates in the transportation of containerized goods, are likely to restrain the growth up to some extent. In addition, the environmental regulations on using water-based coatings are also likely to incur some extra costs.

Container Shipping Industry Segmentation

Container shipping refers to transportation through containers from one place to another. Unlike conventional shipping, container shipping uses containers of various standard sizes to load, transport, and unload goods or objects. As a result, containers can be moved by trains, ships, and trucks.

The report provides a comprehensive background analysis of the container shipping market, covering the current market trends, restraints, technological updates and detailed information of various segments, and the competitive landscape of the industry. The impact of COVID-19 has also been incorporated and considered during the study.

The container shipping market is segmented by size (small, large, and high cube containers), type (general container shipping and reefer container shipping), and geography (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle-East and Africa, and South America).

By Size
Small Containers
Large Containers
High Cube Containers
By Type
General Container Shipping
Reefer Container Shipping
By Geography
North America
United States
Rest of North America
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe
Rest of Asia-Pacific
Middle-East and Africa
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
South Africa
Rest of Middle-East and Africa
South America
Rest of South America

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Container Shipping Market Trends

This section covers the major market trends shaping the Container Shipping Market according to our research experts:

Increasing Seaborne Trade

The seaborne cargo trade is experiencing an upsurge in demand for the transportation of cargo through waterways backed by factors, like cargo safety and cost-effectiveness. Cargo ships are less expensive for shipping goods as compared to road and air transits. Ships can carry more cargo from one place to another within a short span of time. In 2019, developing economies accounted for the largest share of global seaborne trade, both in terms of exports and imports. They loaded 58% and unloaded 65% of the world's total tonnage. With a volume of 4.3 billion metric ton loaded and 6.1 billion metric ton unloaded, Asian and Oceanian developing economies contributed most to that share.

Additionally, the growing number of container ships and an increase in the port capacity in countries throughout the world are propelling the demand for new container shipping in the market. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) expects maritime trade growth to return to positive territory and expand by 4.8% in 2021.

global container shipping market Trends

Increasing Intermodal Freight Transportation

Intermodal freight transport offers freight savings and reduced emissions, especially when transporting products over distances of 500 miles or more. Optimizing each transport method's relative strengths and efficiencies, intermodal can help reduce cargo handling, damage, and loss, enabling freight to be transported more securely and at lower overall costs. According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals State of Logistics Report, transportation comprises 66% of total logistics costs. Adding intermodal into the transportation mix delivers tangible cost savings. Incorporating multiple modes of transportation into the carrier base reduces reliance on a single source of capacity. Supply chain leaders who use multimodal freight moves may realize short- and long-term benefits by leveraging each mode of transportation's strengths. Along with the shipping companies, rail and road transportation is also growing, moving everything from raw materials, such as grain and coal, to manufactured goods, including furniture and cars. The transportation of goods has become easy with the increasing use of intermodal containers and trailers.

global container shipping market Analysis

Container Shipping Industry Overview

The container shipping market is fairly fragmented in nature, with the presence of many international companies in the market. The top players in the segment include Maersk, MSC, CMA, COSCO, and Hapag Lloyd. High barriers to entry due to the high cost of vehicles and increasing economies of scale affect competition in the industry. The industry structure is also affected by strict international government regulations and the cyclicality of demand. Shipping firms are making judicious investments in new assets to guarantee reliability and efficiency to their customers and earn superior returns on their investments. Due to shipping congestions during COVID-19, the shipping companies realized the benefits of consolidation in ways of cost reduction and sustainability. The anticipated trend of automation in marine transportation and the rise in marine safety norms are also expected to create opportunities for the market players in the coming years.

Container Shipping Market Leaders

  1. A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S

  2. MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S. A.

  3. CMA CGM

  4. China COSCO Holdings Company Limited

  5. Evergreen Line

*Disclaimer: Major Players sorted in no particular order

A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S. A., CMA CGM, China COSCO Holdings Company Limited, Evergreen Line

Container Shipping Market News

September 2020: Maersk completed the acquisition of KGH Customs Services, the European customs services specialist, to further enhance its logistics and services offering.​

August 2020: MSC announced its Golden Horn service, complementing its existing intra-Asia network and linking China, Korea, and the East Russia coast.​

Container Shipping Market Report - Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study


    1. 2.1 Analysis Methodology

    2. 2.2 Research Phases



    1. 4.1 Current Market Scenario

    2. 4.2 Market Dynamics

      1. 4.2.1 Drivers

      2. 4.2.2 Restraints

      3. 4.2.3 Opportunities

    3. 4.3 Value Chain/Supply Chain Analysis

    4. 4.4 Industry Policies and Regulations

    5. 4.5 Technological Developments in the Logistics Sector

    6. 4.6 Industry Attractiveness - Porter's Five Forces Analysis

    7. 4.7 Impact of COVID-19 on the Market

    8. 4.8 Insights into End Users in the Market


    1. 5.1 By Size

      1. 5.1.1 Small Containers

      2. 5.1.2 Large Containers

      3. 5.1.3 High Cube Containers

    2. 5.2 By Type

      1. 5.2.1 General Container Shipping

      2. 5.2.2 Reefer Container Shipping

    3. 5.3 By Geography

      1. 5.3.1 North America

        1. United States

        2. Canada

        3. Mexico

        4. Rest of North America

      2. 5.3.2 Europe

        1. Germany

        2. France

        3. United Kingdom

        4. Italy

        5. Rest of Europe

      3. 5.3.3 Asia-Pacific

        1. China

        2. Japan

        3. Australia

        4. India

        5. Singapore

        6. Malaysia

        7. Indonesia

        8. Thailand

        9. Rest of Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.3.4 Middle-East and Africa

        1. Egypt

        2. Qatar

        3. Saudi Arabia

        4. United Arab Emirates

        5. South Africa

        6. Rest of Middle-East and Africa

      5. 5.3.5 South America

        1. Brazil

        2. Colombia

        3. Rest of South America


    1. 6.1 Market Concentration Overview

    2. 6.2 Company Profiles

      1. 6.2.1 A. P. Moller-Maersk AS

      2. 6.2.2 MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA

      3. 6.2.3 CMA CGM

      4. 6.2.4 China COSCO Holdings Company Limited

      5. 6.2.5 Evergreen Line

      6. 6.2.6 Hapag-Lloyd AG

      7. 6.2.7 OOCL

      8. 6.2.8 YMMTC

      9. 6.2.9 Hamburg Sud

      10. 6.2.10 NYK*

    3. *List Not Exhaustive

  8. 8. APPENDIX

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Container Shipping Market Research FAQs

The Container Shipping Market is studied from 2019 - 2028.

The Container Shipping Market is growing at a CAGR of >5% over the next 5 years.

Asia Pacific is growing at the highest CAGR over 2019 - 2028.

North America holds highest share in 2021.

A. P. Moller-Maersk A/S, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S. A., CMA CGM, China COSCO Holdings Company Limited, Evergreen Line are the major companies operating in Container Shipping Market.

Container Shipping Industry Report

Statistics for the 2023 Container Shipping market share, size and revenue growth rate, created by Mordor Intelligence™ Industry Reports. Container Shipping analysis includes a market forecast outlook to 2028 and historical overview. Get a sample of this industry analysis as a free report PDF download.

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