Container Shipping Companies - Market Overview 2022 & Rankings

September 19, 2022

80% of global trade is carried out through sea routes. This makes maritime shipping companies one of the largest players in the global supply chain.

Enormous shipping containers are used by companies to ferry goods via ships and cater to human consumption.

Container shipping is dominated by certain key names, including firms like MSC, Maersk, Hapag Lloyd, COSCO Shipping, and more. 

THis is an image of the vessel of SC shipping lines loading at New York port.

With capacity measured in TEUs or twenty-foot equivalent containers, large shippers have the capacity and appetite to ferry volumes upwards of 100K containers globally every year.

In fact, according to a recent Alphaliner report, Denmark’s Maersk was toppled from the top spot as the largest player in the container shipping space, with MSC acquiring greater TEU capacity in January 2022.

Container Shipping Company Rankings 2022 Report Overview

A report from Alcott Global (based on data from Alphaliner) has mapped various data points to rank the top container shipping companies in 2022 to get a deeper look at the capabilities of the top players in this space.

The two main metrics this report takes into consideration include: 

  • The number of ships owned by a shipping company
  • Their total shipping capacity, measured in TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units)

Top 10 Container Shipping Company Rankings

According to the report, the top 10 container shipping companies in 2022 can be found in the table below: 

Rank Company Country TEU # of Ships
1 MSC Switz. 4.5M 606
2 Maersk Denmark 4.3M 718
3 CMA CGM France 3.2M 542
4 COSCO Shipping China 2.9M 497
5 Hapag-Lloyd Germany 1.7M 259
6 Ocean Network Express Japan 1.5M 218
7 Evergreen Marine Taiwan 1.5M 201
8 HMM S. Korea 0.8M 79
9 Yang Ming Taiwan 0.7M 87
10 ZIM Israel 0.5M 127

Note: Fleet sizes are as of June 2021, while TEU capacity is from July 2022.

According to this report, MSC holds first place, with Maersk coming in a close second as the largest container shipping company globally. This is in contrast to June 2021, when Maersk held the number one position.  

The Changing Face of Container Shipping 

Despite the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the shipping industry as a whole has been profitable in the last few years.

According to a Sea-Intelligence press release, the global shipping lines made an unprecedented operating profit of over $110 billion, triple the profit made in the past decade!

THis is the  image containing a huge number of containers kept on the port which are meant to be transported trhough a shipping vessel.

Across 2021-22, companies have been investing significantly in increasing their freight carrying capacity as a way to serve the dramatic increase in demand through the pandemic.

While demand seems to have slowed in the present, container shipping remains one of the major avenues to carry freight across the supply chains. 

Container Ship Trends - Bigger Vessels to Accommodate Larger Volumes

To accommodate increased volumes of trade, shipping companies are going for larger and larger vessels. Mega ships with a capacity level of over 18,000 TEUs are becoming mainstream. 

In 2021, a famous shipping snarl at the Suez Canal brought the shipping industry to a halt for almost a week when Ever Green, one of these mega-ships from shipping line Evergreen, was stuck in the canal. 

In this image we can see the famous Evergreen lines vessel, Ever Given, stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt in the year 2021.

Swiss shipping company MSC or Mediterranean Shg Co. surpassed Maersk in January 2022, becoming the top container shipping company, and is set to keep its position, with a 4.5 M TEU existing capacity and 1.6 M TEU additional capacity on the order book.

MSC  took delivery of a container ship in Singapore, according to maritime consultancy, Alphaliner, for a whopping $50.5 Mn to gain the top spot. 

ZIM, the Israeli shipping line, upgraded its fleet as well, from 0.4 M TEU in 2021 to the current capacity of 0.5 M TEU in July 2022.

With the new orders placed, the Israel-based shipping line is aiming for a significant increase in TEU, which might move it to 9th place in the top 10 container shipping lines ranking.

This is the image of the vessel of a ZIM shipping lines company floating in blue ocean.

These large shipping corporations have pushed for a massive increase in their fleet sizes, upwards of 1.1 million TEUs.

According to the Alcott Global report, the overall TEU capacity on the three major routes, Trans-Atlantic, Trans-Pacific, and Feast-Europe, has increased by 8% from June 2021 until today, with a 16% capacity increase on the Trans-Pacific route.

The Digital Advantage: How forwarders can get future-ready

With such a massive rise in the number of ships across the world, ports have to adapt quickly to accommodate more vessels and avoid congestion. Ports, liners, and carriers that are ready with digital tools and know-how quickly gain a competitive advantage with real-time insight and updates. 

A real-time ocean freight visibility suite like Freightify’s is becoming a critical cornerstone for freight forwarders and their other stakeholders.

Automation, data sharing, and digitalization are the new normal as Web 3.0 changes how the supply chain and logistics industry interact.

To this end, the need of the hour is investing in integrations that help you acquire and analyze real-time data and gain visibility into everything from container tracking to rate management.

This can help companies and individual players gain the competitive edge to make more insightful decisions and improve both top and bottom lines.

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