million TEU in 2018
export TEU per day
In seafreight, the company's largest business unit, Kuehne + Nagel further expanded its market-leadership in 2018. With a volume growth of 7.7 percent, seafreight grew more than twice as fast as the overall market, which grew by approximately 3 percent, and thereby strengthened its position as the global No. 1. In 2018, the company handled approximately 4.7 million standard containers (TEU). Particularly strong growth was recorded in Asia-Europe transports, despite a shrinking overall market in this trade lane, and for US imports, in particular from Asia. The company also increased volumes in intra-Asian transports, while European exports suffered from the Chinese ban on waste imports. Projects, Oil & Gas, Marine Logistics (PROM) improved substantially thanks to increased oil prices.
The margins achieved varied greatly again in 2018, depending on trade lane, region, and product. The company realised a significant increase in Asia-Europe transports, whilst margins for European exports being under pressure. After an upturn in the previous year, transports for the Middle East and Latin America dropped significantly.
The market environment remained challenging. After the historical consolidation of container shipping, there are now only three alliances and seven large carriers that determine market activities. While the rates for Asia-Europe transport operations stayed relatively stable compared to last year, there were stronger fluctuations in rates for shipments from Asia to North America and from Asia to South America. Noticeable deviations from timetables remained a dominant theme this year as well. More than 30 percent of container ships did not reach their destinations on time, experiencing delays of more than one day. Thanks to its global network, operational and local know-how, and digital solutions, the seafreight business unit was able to deliver outstanding performance despite these circumstances.
2018 was another year in which Kuehne + Nagel continued to invest in its industry leading IT systems in seafreight. With Sea Explorer, a digital platform introduced in spring and significantly expanded in autumn, customers can schedule and book their shipments according to specific criteria such as reliability, capacity or CO2 emissions. Another digital platform, KN ESP, is a supplier management system for international supply chain customers that was also launched last year. After the successful implementation of the SeaLOG operational system for imports, it will now be rolled out for exports as part of the company-wide eTouch strategy in 2019. This system will offer and improve semi-automated shipping services.