The World’s Largest Container Shipping Companies

Data from the logistics consulting firm Alcott Global has shown that the world’s container transportation industry is dominated by the largest container shipping companies like Maersk, COSCO Shipping, and Evergreen.

The World's Largest Container Shipping Companies 1

Did you know that 80 percent of all goods traded globally are transported over sea? Due to the scale of human consumption, this requires a huge quantity of shipping containers in addition to ships to transport them.

Several very large companies dominate container transportation as an industry. Maersk, COSCO Shipping, and Evergreen are included in this. You may have seen ships or containers with these names painted on them if you live near the coast.

However, generally speaking, customers know relatively little about these companies. By listing the top 10 container shipping companies worldwide, this graphic tries to change that.

The World's Largest Container Shipping Companies 2

Ranking the Top 10

Two metrics are used to rank companies. The first two factors are the total number of ships they own and their combined shipping capacity, expressed in 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs). A TEU is based on the volume of a shipping container that is 20 feet long.

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This infographic’s data was provided by the logistics consulting firm Alcott Global. While TEU capacity begins in January 2022, fleet sizes are as of June 2021.

The World's Largest Container Shipping Companies 3

In terms of TEU capacity, Maersk and MSC are tied for first position in this dataset. This is no longer the case as recent reports from news sources indicate that MSC has surpassed the former.

The two market leaders are followed by a mix of European and Asian businesses. These businesses have developed significantly through mergers and acquisitions.

Interesting Facts

Maersk

Maersk is currently the third-largest firm in Denmark in terms of market capitalization. The company is 118 years old, having been established in 1904.

MSC

In terms of TEU capacity, The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has recently risen extremely swiftly, catching up to (and overtaking) long-time leader Maersk.

The Swiss company has expanded its fleet through fresh orders, the purchase of used ships, and charter agreements.

COSCO Shipping

COSCO Shipping is a state-owned shipping firm in China. American government representatives have expressed concern (pdf below) about the company’s growing influence abroad.

To put things in perspective, five American ports have terminals that are owned by Chinese state-owned companies. For instance, two COSCO companies own a 33.33 percent share in Terminal 30 at the Port of Seattle.

Moving forward, any further Chinese interest in U.S. terminals will face an even more stringent regulatory environment.

– KARDON (2021)

Evergreen

The name Evergreen is probably well-known, but not for the right reasons. One of the company’s ships, Ever Given, became stuck in the Suez Canal in 2021, shutting down one of the busiest shipping lanes for about a week.

Bulking Up

The size of container ships is increasing as economies of scale improve. This trend is shown in the following graph from 1970 to 2017.

The World's Largest Container Shipping Companies 4

The introduction of mega-ships, or ships with a capacity of more than 18,000 TEUs, is pushing average capacity up. Ports that weren’t built to manage such a high volume of traffic struggle with their massive size.

It’s important to note that the Ever Ace, a ship owned by Evergreen with a capacity of 24,000 TEUs, is currently the largest ship. View the stunning ship footage on this YouTube video.

Watch below:

Going Green

According to Bloomberg, 3 percent of the carbon emissions produced worldwide are due to shipping. The industry would rank as the sixth-largest emitter in the world if it were a country.

Pressure to decarbonize their ships has increased on shipping companies as a result of the expansion of ESG investing. Although there hasn’t been much progress so far, there are a lot of solutions on the way.

Alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, or biofuels derived from plants are one choice. Ships could be able to significantly reduce their emissions thanks to these fuels.

The entire abandonment of fuel in favor of wind power, an age-old technology, is a another choice.

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