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Cargo Shipping Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis, By Cargo Type (Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, General Cargo, Container Cargo), By Industry Type (Food & Beverages, Manufacturing, Oil, Gas & Ores, Electrical & Electronics), and Regional Forecast, 2024-2032

Last Updated: May 30, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102045



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The cargo shipping market size was 11.61 billion tons in 2023. The market is expected to grow from 11.89 billion tons in 2024 to 14.72 billion tons by 2032, exhibiting a CAGR of 2.7% during the forecast period.

Cargo shipping is a mode of transportation used to transport items, goods, cargo and others, from seaport to the destination through vessels, cargo ships, and others. Shipping offers the cheapest mode of transport per ton. It is preferred due to its economic & efficient long-distance transportation with less environmental pollution.

Rising demand for import/export of manufactured goods, the bulk transport of raw materials, and affordable food items are fueling the demand for waterborne freight transportation. Global supply chain expansion, liberalizing trade policies, and technological advancement in waterborne shipping have propelled the trade of intermediate and manufactured products and significantly reduced coordination and transportation costs.

Hence, increased economic liberalization, especially in the developing economies, and the enhanced efficiency of shipping as a mode of transport are responsible for the cargo shipping market growth.

The pandemic led to fluctuations in demand for certain types of goods. For example, there has been increased demand for medical supplies and essential goods, while demand for non-essential items has decreased in some cases. Cargo shipping companies had to adapt to these changing demand patterns. Port congestion was being a major issue during the pandemic, with many ports experiencing delays in loading and unloading cargo due to reduced staffing, social distancing measures, and other operational challenges.

Cargo Shipping Market Trends

Increasing Stringency of Emission Regulations over the Forecast Period

Regulatory frameworks addressing emissions from maritime shipping, such as the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) regulations on sulfur emissions (IMO 2020) and the upcoming implementation of the IMO's Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), are driving shipping companies to invest in cleaner technologies and operational practices. For instance, In October 2022, the International Maritime Organization implemented regulations requiring shipowners to begin collecting operational data starting from January 2023. This data collection is necessary for calculating the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII), which measures a vessel's actual CO2 emissions per tonne mile of transport work conducted.

In January 2023, three IMO regulations were implemented with the goal of reducing maritime greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the environmental footprint of vessels. Among these regulations is the CII mandate, which identified 30 to 40 percent of containerships and dry bulk carriers as non-compliant in 2021. Overall, the trend toward sustainability in the global cargo shipping market is likely to continue and intensify in the coming years, driven by regulatory requirements, market forces, and a growing awareness of the need to address climate change and environmental degradation, thus fueling market growth.

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Cargo Shipping Market Growth Factors

Capacity Optimization via Digital Transformation to Fuel Industry Growth

Several carriers are increasingly partnering with startups in the shipping industry that focus on data collection of cargo movements and vessels that can enable optimal cargo routing and enhanced vessel deployment, among other benefits. For instance, startups such as Transmetrics focus on analyzing cargo positioning data to accurately predict cargo volumes that can help carriers avert empty back-haul trips. Hence, the capacity optimization of deployed vessels is expected to grow the cargo shipping market revenue.

High Efficiency and Decreased Environmental Impact to Augment Growth

According to the Swedish Network for Transport and the Environment, cargo shipping produces lower exhaust gas emissions for each ton of cargo transported per kilometer than road, rail, or air transport. This type of shipping is also highly efficient as an average of 10,000 products and goods can be transported on a large containership on a single voyage. For instance, nearly 7600 cars can be handled by a few car carrier ships on a single trip compared to the fleet of trucks and several miles of rail cars that would be required for the same quantity.

Hence, low environmental impact and greater efficiency of this shipping method are primarily driving the market's growth.


Global Trade Tensions to Restrain Market Growth

The Trans-Pacific shipping route accounts for a large quantity of the global cargo shipping volume. However, due to trade tensions, particularly between China and the U.S., imports from China have become more expensive. Hence, a demand and volume drop is expected by carriers, and they have significantly decreased capacity, especially on the Trans-Pacific route. Furthermore, some sectors have faced uncertainty in investment plans and increased cost of inputs. They have been compelled to relocate manufacturing facilities from China to regions such as South-East Asia and Eastern Europe. Hence, mounting trade tensions are likely to restrain the market's growth.

Cargo Shipping Market Segmentation Analysis

By Cargo Type Analysis

Container Cargo Segment to Exhibit a Higher CAGR owing to Use of Standard Size Containers

By cargo type, the market is segmented into liquid bulk, dry bulk, general cargo, and container cargo. Import demand for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in Europe and India increases. Furthermore, expanding supply from the U.S. and rapidly evolving energy policy shifts in Asia that have increased demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) are some of the factors expected to lead to the augmented growth of this segment.

The standard size of the containers allows for high efficiency in intermodal transport as they can be loaded onto rail wagons, ships, and inland barges and transportation of large quantities in a single trip. Hence, the container cargo segment is anticipated to exhibit a higher CAGR over the forecast period. 

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By Industry Type Analysis

Urban Areas Segment Dominated in 2023 Fueled by Changes in Land Use Patterns

Based on industry, the market is segmented into food & beverages, manufacturing, oil, gas & ores, and electrical & electronics. The manufacturing segment is expected to dominate the market in 2023. Factors such as the rise in economic growth, particularly in developing economies in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, are driving the growth of this segment.

The oil, gas & ores segment is also expected to show considerable growth in the market. An increase in exports from the U.S. and rising demand in countries such as China and India owing to the high production levels of conventional fuel vehicles are some of the factors propelling the growth of this segment.


Asia Pacific Cargo Shipping Market Size, 2023 (Billion Tons

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The Asia Pacific stood at 4.70 billion tons in 2023 and is expected to reach 5.93 billion tons by 2032. Asia Pacific region is considered as automotive companies manufacturing hub. China accounted for the largest cargo shipping market share regionally and across the globe. However, tariff escalation between China and the U.S. is expected to significantly impact the global cargo shipped in supply chain restructuring and diverting trade flow, which increases costs for consumers and producers. However, a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in China has indicated the preference for South-East Asia (SEA) to relocate facilities for U.S. manufacturing businesses from China, with only 6% considering relocation to the U.S. Hence, these factors are expected to lead to a dominant share of Asia Pacific for this market.

The Rest of the world comprises the Middle East & Africa, and Latin America is also expected to show augmented growth in the market. Improved port connectivity and increased emphasis on modernizing and expanding existing ports have boosted the trading volumes for this region.

Europe is also expected to show good growth in the market owing to port call optimization and substantial investment in infrastructure that have enabled faster loading and unloading of goods in countries such as the U.K., Spain, and Germany.

List of Key Companies in Cargo Shipping Market

Strategic Alliances and Partnerships Fuel Market Competitiveness

The competitive landscape of the market is characterized by a few key players dominating the industry. Major international shipping companies, such as Maersk Line, MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company), and COSCO Shipping Lines, hold leading positions in the market. Additionally, there are numerous regional and niche players operating in specific trade routes or segments of the market. The industry is highly competitive, with companies competing on factors such as pricing, route network, service reliability, and technological innovation. Moreover, alliances and partnerships among shipping lines are common, allowing them to pool resources and optimize vessel capacity. Regulatory compliance, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency are increasingly becoming factors that differentiate competitors in the cargo shipping market.



  • March 2024 - Maersk's ECO Delivery Ocean product saw robust growth in 2023, with over 200 customers, including retail, lifestyle, automotive, and FMCG companies, leading the way. Shippers are increasingly committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in logistics. Maersk's latest figures demonstrate this trend, with more than 660,000 TEU transported on green fuels, saving over 683,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

  • March 2024 - COSCO Shipping Lines inaugurated its inaugural direct route linking North America's East Coast with South America's West Coast. The service streamlines COSCO's regional network, backed by its global digital supply chain service, offering enhanced options for clients in emerging markets.

  • March 2024 - COSCO SHIPPING, as an OCEAN Alliance member, enhanced global trade through expanded capacity, a broader network, and reliable service. With 355 vessels and 480 Port Pairs, the company optimizes service to meet customer needs and support the global supply chain. The OCEAN Alliance DAY 8 product in April 2024 offered 37 services, including 3 Non-OA Transatlantic loops operated by COSCO SHIPPING.

  • February 2024 - Cosco Shipping signed an agreement with Ocean Network Express to supply vessels for Ocean Network Express (ONE's) India to US East Coast service. Cosco planned to introduce one ship for the WIN (West India-North America Express) service, which is set to commence in May. This service, previously announced by ONE, comprises nine vessels and operates independently. The port rotation includes Bin Qasim (Karachi), Hazira, Nhava Sheva (JNPT), Mundra, Damietta, Algeciras, New York, Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston, Norfolk, Damietta, Jeddah, and Bin Qasim.

  • January 2024 - MSC announced updates to NWC to South Africa Service from March 2024 to improve Europe-South Africa services. The upgraded cycle includes a direct call at Bremerhaven. The new rotation: London Gateway – Rotterdam – Antwerp – Hamburg – Bremerhaven – Le Havre – Sines – Las Palmas – Coega – Durban – Coega – Cape Town – Las Palmas – London Gateway. MSC Branka voyage NZ411A marks the beginning, arriving in Bremerhaven on March 19, 2024.


The market research report covers a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects such as leading cargo shipping companies, product types, and leading applications of the product. Besides this, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the aforementioned factors, the report delivers an in-depth market analysis of several factors that have contributed to its growth over recent years.

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Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period


Growth Rate

CAGR of 2.7% from 2024 to 2032


Volume (Billions Tons)


By Cargo Type

  • Liquid Bulk

  • Dry Bulk

  • General Cargo

  • Container Cargo

By Industry Type

  • Food & Beverages

  • Manufacturing

  • Oil, Gas & Ores

  • Electrical & Electronics

By Geography

  • North America (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • U.S. (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • Canada (By  Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

  • Europe (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • U.K. (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • Germany (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • France (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • Rest of Europe (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

  • Asia Pacific (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • China (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • Japan (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • India (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • South Korea (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

    • Rest Of Asia Pacific (By Industry Type, By Cargo Type)

  • Rest of the World ( By Industry Type, By Cargo Type )

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was 11.61 billion tons in 2023 and is projected to reach 14.72 billion tons by 2032.

In 2023, the Asia Pacific market value stood at 4.70 billion tons.

Registering a CAGR of 2.7%, the market will exhibit good growth in the forecast period (2024-2032).

The dry bulk segment held the largest share of the market in 2023.

Capacity and performance optimization via digital initiatives is the key factor driving the markets growth.

Maersk Line, MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company), and COSCO Shipping Lines hold the leading position in the market.

Asia Pacific held the largest share in the market in 2023.

Factors such as low environmental impact and the ability to transport large quantities of cargo over a single trip are some of the factors expected to drive the adoption of the cargo shipping industry over the forecast period.

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