The rising prevalence of chronic diseases, expanding trade routes, flourishing e-commerce industry, and advancements in the real-time tracking technology are some of the key factors positively impacting the growth of the global reefer container market. As a result of these factors, the industry is projected to generate a demand for 7,063.3 thousand twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of container space by 2030, growing with a CAGR of 8.0% during the forecast period (2020–2030).
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the reefer container market has been negatively impacted. This is majorly due to the disruption of manufacturing units’ functioning and trade routes due to the implementation of lockdowns, social distancing, and cross-border trade restrictions. This has caused several global transportation companies to face a major financial setback due to the shortage of workforce, disruption of supply chains, and partial or complete closure of international ports. Moreover, logistics firms throughout the world are facing a reduced available capacity, pressure on equipment availability, possible congestion at specific ports, and extra related costs.
The reefer container market is categorized into 20 feet, 40 feet, and more than 40 feet, based on size. In 2019, the 40 feet category held the largest share in the market. This is because 40-foot containers are designed to provide extra space for carrying voluminous cargoes, rather than just carrying heavy ones. Moreover, despite offering more space for voluminous cargo, their cost is similar to that of 20-foot containers, which is between $7,500 and $8,500. Therefore, the high carrying capacity with a minimal additional cost of the containers is expected to make 40-foot containers even more popular during the forecast period.
The global reefer container market is categorized into seaways, railways, and roadways, based on transportation mode. Amongst them, the seaways category accounted for the largest market share in 2019, owing to ships’ capacity of carrying large truck-size containers in large numbers at once, thus offering cost advantages.
Moreover, over 90% of the international trade is conducted via more than 100,000 commercial ships.
The reefer container market is categorized into food, pharmaceutical, and chemical, based on industry. Among these, the pharmaceutical category is expected to witness the fastest growth during the forecast period due to the increasing cases of chronic diseases, growing investments in drug research and development (R&D), and growing geriatric population. Hence, the increasing the demand for pharmaceutical drugs, which require temperature-controlled containers for transportation and storage, is driving the market in this category.
Geographically, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region held the largest share in the reefer container market in 2019. This was mainly due to the growing demand for reefer containers in this region owing to the rising opportunities in the e-commerce market, growing urbanization, and changing consumption patterns of the consumers, which are together resulting in a significant expansion of the shipping and logistics industry.
The reefer container market is highly consolidated in nature, with the presence of several key players who are actively involved in mergers and acquisitions to gain a competitive edge. For instance, in March 2020, Neptune Pacific Line (Neptune) bought liner shipping business Pacific Direct Line (PDL) from Pacific International Lines (PIL). The combined business will link transport, warehouses, depots, and customs clearance services and integrate customers’ supply chains across 18 South Pacific markets.
Similarly, in December 2019, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. announced the formation of a new subsidiary with Huan Ming (Shanghai) International Shipping Agency Co. Ltd. Through this subsidiary, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. is expected to substantially reduce its operating costs and improve its operating efficiency. The subsidiary was to begin operating on January 1, 2020, acting as Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.’s general agent in China.
Some of the major players operating in the market are A.P. Moller - Maersk A/S, Singamas Container Holdings Ltd., China International Marine Containers (Group) Co. Ltd., Seaco Srl, Triton International Ltd., MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A., and Hapag-Lloyd AG.