Maersk ponders cutting out freight forwarders to focus on larger shippers

Published on: 21st October 2021

The shipping line is expected to announce that it will only handle cargo from direct shippers from November 1st, punishing forwarders for what it sees as ‘scalping tactics’.

According to a report in The Loadstar, the Danish carrier Maersk has made no secret of its ambition to become the ‘integrator of the seas’, offering a single platform to allow shippers to book cargo from door-to-door. The company believes this approach would simplify movements, offering beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) greater supply chain visibility.

Major freight forwarders, including Kuehne + Nagel, currently make up a significant percentage of the cargo mix for the carrier. However, it has been claimed that some forwarders have been taking contract rates – around $4,000/feu from Asia to Europe – and reselling the slots to customers for $20,000/feu. One industry source pointed out: “That’s $16,000 Maersk is losing, so the line is looking to punish the forwarders.”

A spokesperson from Maersk told The Loadstar that it wanted to improve its reliability in the “extraordinary market conditions we see today, where demand far exceeds supply.” As a consequence of these market conditions, the spokesperson admitted: “We have informed some customers that we won’t be able to meet all of their expectations, particularly on specific trade lanes such as Asia to Europe and Asia to North America, where we have seen unprecedented congestion and disruptions. They can, however, still do business online, as well as on the other 40+ available trade lanes.”

James Hookham of the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) has suggested that Maersk may even be considering launching a new trading platform to develop its integrated approach to supply chains: “With the evolution of trading platforms, it has always been on the cards that lines will offer cargo capacity directly to shippers. The option has always been there to deal directly with the lines, but up to now, shippers have preferred a more personalised service.” He also put forward the theory that Maersk could offer door-to-door prices, which would be “a really exciting prospect for volume shippers. However, smaller shippers may feel they could be left behind.”



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