Disappointing volumes in October and November indicate that westbound Asia to North Europe container traffic will lag behind Drewry’s annual forecast.

Demand growth in the headhaul westbound Asia to North Europe trade tailed off in October and November, falling by 1.6% and rising only 0.1% year-on-year respectively, according to the latest available data from CTS.

The slowdown in the first two months of the fourth quarter is a stark contract to the ~5% year-on-year gains witnessed in each of the three preceding quarters. Drewry had anticipated minor deceleration in the final three months of 2017 when setting the annual growth rate forecast at 4.9% in September, but the extent of the drop-off has been surprising. At the time of writing - one week before CTS is due to release the full-year data - it seems inevitable that the annual rate will fall short of our prediction. After 11 months, Asia to North Europe container shipments were up by 4.2% Y/Y at approximately 9.1 million teu, while the rolling 12-month average was tracking even lower at 3.4%.