KPMG provides an overview of the shipping market, as well as trends and challenges, in an era where the maritime industry is undergoing major changes.

Key industry trends

OhAccording to KPMG, the global shipping industry is expected to continue its upward trajectory despite issues of access, manpower, and the current ecopolitical turmoil. Ship owners and operators have faced shortages of ship space and containers, while carriers have had to consolidate port calls. On the other hand, ports have reported managing several log jams. Therefore, key players in the shipping industry are looking to build greater resilience while shipping economies will need to future-proof their ports and maritime supply chains. Other key facts, as presented by KPMG, are:

#1 fleet
  • The world fleet is dominated by small and medium ships up to 25,000 GT (83%), while small ships alone represent 38% by number, although only 1% by tonnage.
  • None of the superyachts reached their 25th birthday, reflecting the trend of larger fleets renewing and growing year after year.
Trends and challenges
Greece’s Position in the World Market/Credit: KPMG
#2 Supply – Demand
  • More container ships will ease the problem of ship availability and this is expected to reduce freight rates.
  • The increasing number of vessels in operation will restore the supply and demand balance in the coming years.
#3 Accessibility
  • Due to port delays and changing customer preferences, the ship availability problem will decrease in the coming years.
  • Infrastructure disruptions can occur from time to time, causing problems throughout the supply chain, ranging from port and vessel capacity to the ability of logistics networks to transport goods to their final destination.
#4 Ecopolitical turmoil
  • The ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have significantly affected the shipping industry.
  • Important trade routes, particularly in the Black Sea, are being disrupted by increased military activity, maritime embargoes, attacks on American and European ships, and port closures.
  • As a result, long and expensive routes are becoming necessary.
#5 Human Resources
  • The latest Safer Workforce report by BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) predicts a significant decline in maritime officers by 2026.
  • Women make up only 2 percent of the ship’s crew workforce and are mostly found in the cruise industry, while they make up 34 percent of the workforce in ship-owning corporations.
Key industry challenges.

As explained, the challenges KPMG outlines below have the potential to be transformative for the shipping and port industry.

#1 Environmental concerns

The shipping industry, which handles about 90 percent of global cargo transport, could account for 17 percent of anthropogenic carbon emissions by 2050. To meet sustainability goals, stricter environmental regulations are being implemented, such as the mandatory Energy Efficiency Current Ship Index (EEXI) calculation from January. 2023. A shift away from fossil fuels will accelerate the phasing out of oil rigs in favor of offshore wind farms, increasing collision risks that require better marine navigation aids.

#2 Lack of skilled talent

The maritime industry’s skills shortage is exacerbated by the lack of young talent due to the adoption of new technology and the harsh working conditions and long sea periods. The lingering effects of COVID-19 on crew changes and the crisis in Ukraine affecting tanker officers made the situation worse. With emerging advanced technology, significant training is required to meet safety standards. To attract talent, industry should promote STEM education, environmental responsibility, and support schemes for women and underrepresented groups.

#3 Political anxiety

Geopolitical tensions, such as war in Ukraine and the Middle East, disrupt shipping lanes and port operations, stranding ships and altering supply chains, leading to higher commodity prices and crew shortages. increases. The shipping industry also contends with increasing environmental regulations, potentially incurring additional costs as it aims to reduce its carbon intensity by 70 percent by 2050.

#4 Rapid technological change

Adoption of new technology is key to the efficiency and growth of the maritime industry. AI will enhance route planning, supporting a 9.3% CAGR in autonomous shipping by 2030. Remote monitoring with sensor-equipped data buoys will increase the cost-effectiveness of shipping, while digital data management provides detailed financial insights. However, rapid technological development poses challenges in adoption and troubleshooting. Additionally, increased cyber security threats threaten ships and crews.