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Focus: Global Supply Chain and Logistics

Our Weekly Feature Article on Topics Related to Global SupplyChain Logistics

From SCDigest's On-Target e-Magazine

- March 5, 2013 -


Global Logistics News: Who is Up and Who Is Down Among Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers?

Filling Role Between Freight Forwarders and Ocean Container Lines, Volumes Rose 3.2% in 2012, New Analysis Finds; Expeditors Sees Volumes Drop 4.9%


SCDigest Editorial Staff


Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) are similar to traditional freight forwarders, but with some important differences, mostly in terms of taking more responsibility than a traditional freight forwarder can.

SCDigest Says:


The NVOCC in the top 10 in terms of total TEU volume with the highest growth rate last year was Schenkerocean Limited, which saw an 17.4% increase in volumes for 21st place on the growth list.

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Often referred to as "shipless shipping lines," an NVOCC acts almost like a common carrier, with the exception that an NVOCC does not actually operate the vessel it uses to move the container. Instead, the NVOCC brokers space on existing container ships and, using the aggregate volume from all its clients, negotiates discount rates that in many cases will allow the NVOCC to offer lower rates to shippers than those offered by the vessel operator themselves.

In addition, an NVOCC can and sometimes does own and operate its own or leased containers (a pure forwarder usually does not), and in certain areas is accorded the status of a "virtual"carrier." In other cases, an NVOCC also accepts all liabilities of a carrier, depending on jurisdiction.

Shippers might use an NVOCC because of that damage liability, the sometimes lower rates, ease of doing business in some cases versus the ocean carriers, and more. The NVOCC will generally also provide the functions of a freight forwarder as well in terms of managing end-to-end logistics and customs clearance.

There are literally hundreds of NVOCCs, and recent analysis shows the market has a lot of dynamics amongst the players.

Thom Williams, managing director at transportation consulting and investment firm Amherst Alpha Advisors, recently produced an analysis of the changes in volumes (in TEU equivalents) among the top 100 NVOCCs in 2012 versus 2011.

All told, Williams says, the world's 100 highest-volume NVOCCs saw a 3.2% increase in their aggregate TEUs, closing out 2012 with about 4.8 million in TEU-equivalent shipments, or about 151,000 more TEUs than in 2011.

Williams lists the top 100 global NVOCCs for 2012 by TEU volume in his full report, which can be found here: The Shifting Seas of Global NVOCCs.

Below, we present a graphic of the top 25 as an excerpt of Williams' full list, led by number 1 Expeditors International, at 387,500 TEUs for the year. That is somewhat ahead of number 2 Blue Anchor Line at 333,000, before a big drop off to number 3 Apex Shipping at 211,000 TEU equivalents.


Top 25 NVOCCs by TEU Volume in 2012



Source: Amherst Alpha Advisors

(Global Supply Chain Article Continued Below)




Who were the NVOCC Winners and Losers?

Williams' research also identified the list of winners and losers in the NVOCC TEU battle. Below are the top 10 winners in terms of percentage gains. Naturally, the smaller providers dominate the list, as it is much easier for them to see major percentage gains over a single year.


Top 10 NVOCSs in TEU Percentage Growth in 2012



Source: Amherst Alpha Advisors


The NVOCC in the top 10 in terms of total TEU volume with the highest growth rate last year was Schenkerocean Limited, which saw an 17.4% increase in volumes for 21st place on the growth list.

And which NVOCCs were the volume losers in 2012? According to Williams' analysis, Worldwide Logistics Ltd. took the biggest hit, with a volume decline of some 68%. De Well Container Shipping Corp. also saw a sharp drop, with TEU volumes falling 23,200 in absolute numbers for a 21% drop. Expeditors International saws its TEU volumes also fall some 20,000 units, but that translated into just a 4.9% percentage loss for the current market leader.


Top 10 NVOCSs in TEU Percentage Decline, Reverse Order, in 2012



Source: Amherst Alpha Advisors

Williams says that the 60 NVOCC 2012 winners that managed to grow their 2012 TEU volumes achieved an overall volume increase of 352,693 TEU's, 13.6% above their 2011 volumes. Conversely, the 40 NVOCC losers, those with neutral or lower TEU volumes in 2012, saw an overall decline of 200,831 TEUs, 9.5% below their 2011 volumes.

Any reaction to this NVOCC analysis? Do you use NVOCCs or not - and why? Let us know your thoughts either via email or in the Feedback section below. We will keep your comments anonymous by request.



Recent Feedback

The information is great. Where do you see the nvocc business in the coming years?


Aug, 16 2015