Reefer rates have risen sharply in 2021, but unlike dry containers, they are set to rise further in 2022, according to Drewry's Reefer Shipping Annual Review and Forecast 2021/22, driven by the revival of the North-South routes.
In order to better understand what is happening in the logistics sector and international trade, we recommend you to read our previous article Adapting logistics to the coronavirus crisis (silverseacontainers.com)
Reefer container freight rates have not been equal on all routes. Price recovery has been strong on East-West routes, where vessel capacity was tight. On the other hand, North-South routes have suffered less rate inflation, especially on Central America and Southern Africa routes.
Reefer container freight rates are expected to continue to rise as price inflation is likely to increase on North-South routes when long-term contract rates are renewed".
Most refrigerated cargo on these routes moves under long-term contracts.
The main driver of reefer freight rate inflation has been capacity-related, as perishable shippers have competed with higher-paying dry cargo receivers for scarce container slots. Meanwhile, ongoing disruptions in container supply chains have led to a severe shortage of reefer containers, which were already affected by the nature of reefer operations.
Increasing modal share and high cargo demand will make reefer container transport grow faster than dry container transport from 2022 onwards.
And while reefer container rates have risen sharply in 2021, a combination of high cargo growth and tight capacity conditions will continue to drive reefer container freight rates and reefer charter revenues, however, charter rates for the larger reefer vessels that have been in particularly high demand of late are expected to decline as capacity conditions ease.