Key Issues for
Global Ocean Freight
in 2023

10/18/2023 | 3 min

Our Q3 survey of 2023 saw 24 ocean shipping experts all ready to share their thoughts, insights and concerns about this challenging, but exciting industry. 

Here’s what we found

The main concerns for shippers are:

  • Global inflation and forecasted recession;
  • Oil price development;
  • Greenhouse gas reduction.

In terms of what’s going right in the maritime industry, shippers feel confident about:

  • Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the freight forwarding sector;
  • Premium and peak season surcharges;
  • Quality of carriers’ customer service.

The survey indicates that global demand development is expected to have a more significant long-term influence than spot rate development. Moreover, shippers exhibit slightly higher confidence in predicting global port congestions compared to their projections for capacity, oversupply and blank sailing.

The long-term impact* of macroeconomic factors, such as inflation and recession, coupled with a high-level of uncertainty** surrounding them, is contributing to a decline in global demand.

The chart (figure 1) displays the insights gathered from 24 ocean freight experts regarding the potential impact and level of uncertainty associated with ongoing hot topics  such as the Russia-Ukraine war  on the ocean freight market within the next two years.

The responses were categorized using a scale ranging from "No impact at all" (0) to "Very high impact" (4). Similarly, the level of uncertainty surrounding the issue was categorized on a scale from "Very low uncertainty" (0) to "Very high uncertainty" (4).


Key findings:

  • Oil price development is currently caught between the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the EU energy crisis, both of which are contributing to heightened levels of uncertainty.
  • The quality of carriers’ customer service is expected to have a longer impact than premium and peak season surcharges.
  • Greenhouse gas reduction has become much more important since the last survey in Q1 2023, and surpassed oil price development.
  • Spot rate developments became less important, while concerns about the Russia-Ukraine war have notably increased since Q1.


*Impact: the level of influence that this event has or is expected to have on your business. Long-term = 1 year from now

**Uncertainty: the level of information that is needed to properly deal with the issue. 


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