Author Archives: Nick Hammons

ByNick Hammons

Competition & Carrier Alliances

Changes are on the horizon for the shipping industry, and as with all change, some of it is good, and some of it is not so good. In January, we anticipated alliance consolidation to be a common theme throughout the year. Now less than six months into the year, the major alliances have formed, sacrificing competition as an opportunity cost for tighter efficiency across the industry.

Three Alliances, One Industry

The recent consolidation trend has narrowed down the shipping alliances, which were once many, to a mere three. This month we saw the formation of three major alliances. They are:

  • 2M Alliance: Maersk, MSC
  • THE Alliance: NYK, MOL, K Line, Yang Ming, Hapag-Lloyd (with UASC)
  • Ocean Alliance: CMA CGM, Evergreen, OOCL, COSCO Shipping

These three alliances represent 77.2% of global container capacity and 96% of all East-West trades. While this isn’t a monopoly, the rising concern is that the formation of three mega alliances has halted competition, leaving the consumer with virtually no options except the alliance-issued standard.

A Suffocating Competitive Landscape

Competition is what drives businesses to be better; to provide better products, better customer service, better options, and overall set the bar high for other businesses to enter. What happens when competition is no longer at the forefront? B2B markets will bear the brunt of diminishing competition; particularly when it comes to having options, therefore cutting off the ability to negotiate a better deal. Less competition in shipping isn’t good news for exporters who currently benefit from low freight rates.

Restructuring for the Future

Without doubt, there is concern among the shipping community and forwarders that the new mega alliances are inevitably creating disruption to global supply chains. The obvious problem is the lack of options that limited competition provides, but a more subtle, equally as important, problem is the absence of the customer from the discussion. The alliances left the customer out of the equation – and that’s where the new market structure can fail us. When we remove the customer out of the equation, we lose sight of value and customer service.

We’ll be covering the changes throughout the year, so stay tuned to our blog, or subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page. Always a step ahead, our team of Freight Architects has deep and current knowledge of international supply chain management. To learn more about how we can assist your company and ensure you have excellence in your supply chain, visit our services tab.

ByNick Hammons

Antitrust Law Investigation

Last month US antitrust investigators raided the biannual Box Club meeting in San Francisco, handing subpoenas to the CEOs of major container lines. US Antitrust regulations are taking a more prominent role in an era of consolidation, big shipping alliances, and a new government administration.

Investigations, not allegations

Maersk Line, and Mediterranean Shipping Co. are among the many companies who received subpoenas, which do not set any allegations against the company itself. All CEOs are cooperating with the investigations – but why the investigations at all? With consolidation being the main theme this year, the Department of Justice is taking particular interest in preventing the carrier alliances from setting fixed rate guidelines. Carriers retained limited antitrust immunity in the last major revision of US shipping law: the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 1998. Before the OSRA, carriers jointly set rates through conferences, and shippers and carriers were prohibited from negotiating confidential contracts with each other. The DOJ is trying to prevent rate-fixing.

A history of price fixing

Antitrust investigators are having a difficult time laying down tighter regulations again, mostly due to the fact that the industry lacks discipline when it comes to discussing price fixing, as they’ve been operating under antitrust immunity for years. The investigation comes at a time where alliances are setting standard rates, in an attempt to control the wild fluctuation of shipping rates. Over capacity at ports, on ships, and throughout the industry has caused rates to drop below profitable margins, spurring bankruptcies, like Hanjin, and consolidations like the three new alliances — THE, Ocean, and 2M. Historically, antitrust immunity allowed the industry to operate under protection from unfair competition; now the lack of competition as it relates to antitrust immunity is raising alarms, spearheading the DOJ’s investigation.

At this point, the investigation is still underway, stay close to our blog for upcoming updates, or subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of the page. Always a step ahead, our team of Freight Architects can assist your company and ensure you have excellence in your supply chain, visit our services tab.

ByNick Hammons

The Time For (Regulatory) Change is Now

Maritime regulators voted to toss the rule requiring container lines to report amendments to service contracts before they go into effect. It’s part of a broader effort by the US Federal Maritime Commission to save beneficial cargo owners, carriers, and non-vessel operating common carriers time and money by simplification of the filing process.

The First of Many Regulatory Rollbacks?

The review of existing rules at the Federal Maritime Commission began under the Obama administration, and continue to be put into motion with the Trump administration. This current regulatory rollback is the first of many planned changes aimed at reducing superfluous and expensive regulations plaguing the logistics industry.

Right and left leaning officials alike are welcoming the regulatory rollbacks, as a means of easing the burdens associated with international shipments and filing amendments with the commission. Nearly 600k service contract amendments were filed last year, and all had to be filed before they went into effect; now shippers have an additional 30 days after they go into effect to file. This change is the first revision to freight forwarding (NVOCC) service arrangements since 2005.

Proceeding with Caution

The same voices that encourage soft deregulation are cautioning against deregulation in other areas, such as possible changes to the infrastructure of service contracts themselves. One thing that is certain is that the NVOCC community cannot agree on the fundamental core of NVOCC regulations. Making too hasty decisions to change things on a larger scale can disrupt the industry much more than anticipated.

Identifying Outdated Rules

Acting FMC Chairman, Michael Khouri stated: “I am committed to continuing to identify rules that are outdated, or impede the efficient operation of business, and eliminating them whenever possible.” We can expect to see continued efforts to review outdated rules and regulations moving forward.

Our team of logistics specialists has deep and current knowledge of international supply chain management. To learn more about how we can assist your company and ensure you have excellence in your supply chain, visit our services tab.

Source: JOC

ByNick Hammons

Niche is On the Rise

2017 marks an unprecedented time for vessels, ocean carriers, and ports; the industry is consolidating to accommodate greater economies of scale. What we’d like to ask is this: what happened to value? In an age where anything from taxi rides to dinner can be summoned from a device in our hands, why isn’t this innovative mentality prevalent in the shipping industry?

One Word: Cost

Well, more specifically, economies of scale. We’re living in historically significant times – on the brink of discovering widely-accepted alternative fuel methods, self-driving cars, custom supply innovations – yet, the shipping industry cannot get off the “bigger is better” wagon. There’s reason behind this, and it boils down to cost. Rates dropped to a historic low, growth is sluggish, and bankruptcies are common core. As a result, shippers have pulled back the reins on virtually all facets of shipping aside from cost. Value is no longer a priority, cost efficiency is king.

To Scale or Not to Scale, That is the Question

Currently ocean carriers and ports alike focus on available capacity and rock-bottom rates. Unfortunately, added value has taken a backseat during these cost-austere times. The current landscape is far too competitive to take any action on the value creation argument, but looking forward the industry is inevitably going to see a demand for better service, niche ports, and more flexibility. This leads the industry to question its own motives for focusing on economies of scale.

Smaller, Faster, Smarter

Congestion, at all levels, is a main concern for logistics professionals. The shift to cost-effective economies of scale has led to local congestion, stress on resources, and overall compromised equipment – which amplifies the challenges to local port communities and the environment. According to a July, 2015 report released by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) “…the elimination of congestion is today’s most critical and relevant trade-related issue.”

The market is shifting; demand for smaller, faster, smarter delivery models are on the rise. Scale has replaced service, ironic for an industry prized for its highly complex service-oriented roots. The elimination of product and service options has created a black hole of value – industry professionals are starting to ask: ‘where’s the value?’ Herein lies the solution, rid the system of unsustainable growth patterns, stop trying to be everything to everyone, and divert a large portion of traffic to well-equipped niche-specific ports and routes.

The industry will be healthier, and value-added, given the opportunity to diversify market share for smaller, smarter, efficient ports and vessels. Performance and value will overtake perceived economies of scale, once demand for value rises again.

Dedicated to keeping abreast of our rapidly changing industry, our team at Jaguar Freight Services is here to help you every step of the way. Get in contact with us today to explore more supply chain solutions.

ByNick Hammons

What Affects Ocean Freight Rates?

More often than not, transporting commodities internationally includes traveling through oceanic routes on container freighters. Third party logistics providers, freight forwarders, and brokers alike are all too familiar with the levies imposed on the long voyages of international trade.

Understanding ocean freight rates and the ways and means of its applicability is important because if a shipper undertakes to transport goods without proper knowledge, this could have a huge impact on the landed cost of their goods.

We aim to demystify the intricacies behind ocean freight rates. At Jaguar, we value transparency every step of the way. We’ve rounded up 5 main factors that affect ocean freight rates:

Bunker Fluctuations: Bunker fuel is a considerable cost for crude tanker companies. Closely related to the cost of oil, there is a direct relationship with the cost of oil and the cost of bunker fuel and therefore the ultimate cost of freight. When oil prices rise and fall within international markets, there is a direct impact on freight rates. The volatility of oil prices is correlated to fluctuating international ocean freight costs.

Seasons: For many goods, especially reefer cargo, seasons plays a large role in the cost of transportation. Some goods become more expensive to ship during high seasons, due to demand and supply changes. Inclement weather can cause many smaller ships to be docked, decreasing supply while demand increases, spiking shipping fees.

Fees and Service Charges: Terminal fees are charged both at the embarking point, and the intended destination. During Hanjin’s bankruptcy, many of their ships were stuck out at sea due to the inability of the company to pay the terminal fees. Services charges can be any extra charge levied by port authorities.

Currency Fluctuations: The U.S. dollar is the common denomination used for international transactions, however, the currency exchange rates fluctuate on a daily basis. This fluctuation can be a basis of fluctuating ocean freight rates.

Container Capacity: Shipping containers are designed to operate at maximum capacity. Should the container not reach optimum capacity, ‘economies of scale’ come into play, wherein the shipper becomes responsible for the cost of the empty part of the container although the quantity of actual goods shipped is less than what fits in the container. It is therefore vital to get as close to 100% container utilization as possible.

Ocean shipping is a complex operation, often requiring established business relationships with parties on both ends of the shipping and receiving spectrums. Our team of logistics specialists has deep and current knowledge of international supply chain management. Get in contact with us today to explore more supply chain solutions.

ByNick Hammons

Border Taxes and Trade Implications

In January, the Trump administration announced they are considering a 20% tax on imports, starting with Mexico, that would help finance the building of a border wall between the US and Mexico. This inevitably sparked a flurry of conversation among economists and in logistics circles. International trade laws greatly affect logistics across all channels.

Mexico is currently the U.S.’ third largest partner in the trade of goods, and serves as a prime example of the implications of new taxes imposed on imports. William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center, says “the irony of putting a tariff on Mexican goods is that, to the extent it raises consumer prices in the U.S., consumers will be paying for the wall, not Mexican producers.’’ Mexico is also the U.S.’ second-biggest provider of agricultural products, with imports of $21 billion in 2015; a 20% tax will increase the risk of inflation on essential goods sold within the U.S.

Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association said: “Consider the impact on American consumers of a 20% hike in the cost of foods such as bananas, mangoes and other products that we simply cannot grow in the United States. Consider also what other countries would do to block U.S. exports in retaliation.” Aside from the risk of inflation, there is the risk of retaliation from U.S. trader partners. Should Mexico retaliate the imposed taxes, the U.S. would surely suffer in terms of increasing the trade deficit, as Mexico is the third largest importer of U.S. goods.

Ethan Harris, chief US economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said: “Imposing tariffs, border adjustment taxes, or other protectionist measures will only reduce gross trade flows, without necessarily reducing the US deficit because trade deficits are related to the intertemporal consumption decision of a country rather than to trade agreements.” The repercussions are clear, imposing a tax on our neighbor will inevitably create a chaotic trade imbalance on U.S. soil, and internationally.

Our team of logistics specialists has deep and current knowledge of international supply chain management. To learn more about how we can assist your company and ensure you have excellence in your supply chain, visit our website.


ByNick Hammons

What Is On The Horizon?

It’s hard to say what we can expect to see in 2017, especially after the tumultuous year that was 2016. Consolidations, supply and demand imbalances, bankruptcies, and new regulations ran rampant last year, but will the logistics industry see an improvement in 2017?

We’re writing a three part series of what to expect in 2017, in this first part of the series we’re examining consolidation and regulatory changes, next month we’ll explore rates fluctuation and demand predictions, followed by policy changes and international instability.


It’s safe to say 2016 was the year of consolidation, but will that trend continue into 2017? Hanjin’s collapse shocked most people, sending waves of disruption that inevitably affected the entire industry. With the carrier’s collapse, the mergers of Cosco and China Shipping, CMA CGM and APL, Hapag-Lloyd and UASC, and Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd, we can’t help but ask when is it going to end? The driving force behind consolidation is the delivery of new, large vessels followed by a drop in demand, this outpaced growth to demand ratio is forcing immense shipping companies to consolidate or perish. Logistics experts are eager to see the rates go up to sustainable levels, otherwise 2017 will be full of Hanjin-like scenarios. Looks like consolidation is here to stay, at least in the forms of mergers, acquisitions, or complete sell-offs.

Regulatory Changes.

Worldwide, regulatory changes are inevitably happening on a constant rate, with the incoming government administration changes in the United States, we can expect a substantial amount of change on the horizon. The new administration is reconsidering NAFTA, freight infrastructure, and trucking regulations. JOC is organizing a webcast on what to expect, so check it out. What we do know about regulatory changes moving forward is the trucking industry may face disruption as the electronic logging mandate could limit capacity, ultimately leading to a driver shortage. With port congestions, and limited driver capacity, 2017 may be a year of frugal yet innovative new shipping practices.

Our team of logistics specialists has deep and current knowledge of international supply chain management. To learn more about how we can assist your company and ensure you have excellence in your supply chain, visit our website.

ByNick Hammons

The Uber Mentality of Freight

At this point, the question to ask is “what isn’t Uber getting into?” The term “Uber-ization” is used in an eponymous fashion representing the on-demand revolution, now infiltrating the domestic 3PL industries.

What is Uber doing?

At the end of December 2016 Uber debuted Uber Freight, with the goal to make a dent in the logistics industry. It is uniquely positioned to make improvements to the industry, where it can create a platform where shippers and truckers broker orders directly with one another. It essentially is replacing the customer service aspect of shipping with software licensing.

Been there, doing that.

With Uber raising billions of dollars in venture capital we have to question what their motive is. We believe there is room in the market for everyone, so long as you embrace technology, Uber ultimately can specialize in small shipment movements, and leave the larger freight forwarding to others. However, a company like Uber only invests if they see potential to conquer a large part of the market share. At this point it would be a goliathan feat for Uber to replace the level of service 3PLs provide, as well as the proprietary software systems many 3PLs implement. An application cannot easily replace the pre-existing relationships with the world’s largest shippers, and solid reputations of decades worth of experience. However, we now live in a world that is hungry for change and increased efficiency and where we crave our personal Uber and Amazon experiences in the B2B world. Furthermore, if we’ve learned one thing from the last year it is that conventional wisdom counts for nothing.

Welcoming change.

Like a bigger brother, we support Uber’s aspirations to introduce healthy competition. But, like bigger brothers, we have the experience, knowledge, reputation, and relationships to both hold and  grow our own position. Competition is intrinsically designed to inspire improvement, so rather than worrying about job-losses or the incoming takeover by machines, we welcome the competition as an opportunity to continue to explore growth within the sector.

The Jaguar difference.

Our custom technology provides deep visibility and actionable intelligence into your entire supply chain. Implementing the CyberChain™ software suite, we give you the tools you need to simplify your supply chain. Composed of four data-driven, intuitive technology modules: Each module can be implemented in combination or individually to accommodate your objectives, budget, and scale of business.

As logistics experts, we design bespoke solutions for wide-ranging customer needs. Our team at Jaguar is friendly, efficient, and thoroughly professional; with a dedicated customer service team led by a senior account manager who serves as your personal point of contact, your satisfaction is our ultimate goal.

So perhaps Uber is rattling a few feathers, but we think this will be good for an industry that has lagged behind for too long. We welcome change, as well as technological advancements, and this “Uber-ization” of industries is an inevitable movement happening across multiple industries. We have to stay adept to change; adapt or perish as they say.

“Jaguar provides the right mix of nimbleness and structure.”

—Pierre Pirard | Executive Vice President Product Innovation & Global Supply Chain, Elizabeth Arden

At Jaguar Freight, we pride ourselves in being able to provide you and your team with exceptional freight forwarding services. Our team is dedicated to pioneering the next stages in freight forwarding and logistics.

ByNick Hammons

Tis the Season to Consolidate

The world of global supply chain management isn’t just swept up in the peak demands of the holiday season. It is also looking to the recent consolidation of Maersk Line and Hamburg-Sud, the most recent in a series of consolidations, and what this growing trend will mean for rates in 2017.

There are a number of factors contributing to the need for consolidation in the ocean freight industry. Ocean freight companies, large and small, are feeling the sting of these wounds to the market.

Increased capacity. It takes several years to build a carrier ship, so it is incredibly difficult to accurately predict market growth and to be prepared for it. In 2013, the market for freight shipments appeared to be on an upswing, and many companies began the process of ordering for more carriers to be built. In the last year, those ships have become ready for use, dramatically increasing the available freight space internationally. Unfortunately, the predicted market upswing this increased space was intended to accommodate did not materialize.

Decreased demand. Not only has the market not taken the upswing that was anticipated, demand has actually decreased. Although this does not account fully for the reduction in ocean carrier rates, it makes an already challenging situation even worse.

Debt. Although the space on these carriers have turned out to be unnecessary, companies are still indebted to the manufacturers for their production, many to the tune of billions of dollars. Although the global shipping industry’s debt has decreased from $114 billion in 2013 to $90 billion currently, debt is leaving many companies in a very precarious financial situation.

For these reasons, consolidation is the growing trend, and a viable option for companies that have been hit especially hard by these market changes. With each consolidation, the landscape of supply chain logistics changes.

An experienced logistics provider can assist retailers in managing these changes. Since the early 1990’s Jaguar Freight has been a leading provider of these service. Our team of logistics specialists has deep and current knowledge of international supply chain management. To learn more about how we can assist your company and ensure you have excellence in your supply chain, visit our website.

ByNick Hammons

Retail Logistics and the Holiday Rush

Unless you’re relying on the magic of Santa’s reindeer this holiday season, managing the high volume of international shipments required to meet shoppers’ demands is best handled by a reliable logistics provider. Merchandisers are keenly aware that, in today’s market, being ill-equipped to meet holiday demand is more than a missed opportunity. Customers want to know that they can rely on companies to have adequate stock of the products they need, when they need them.

For this reason, supply chain management between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is no longer about maximizing shipping volume at the lowest prices. If a particular vendor is delayed or other issues in the supply chain arise, companies should not passively accept their fate. Steps can be taken to troubleshoot these common shipping disasters, and enlisting the support of an experienced 4PL provider will ensure the optimal alternative is pursued.

Here are some other challenges that could easily impact retail logistics during the holiday season:

Hot ticket items. Usually electronics, when these items–like a new iPhone model, for instance–hit the market, the spike in shipments can disrupt global supply chains.

Production delays. It is not uncommon for factories to fail to meet the production demands of retailers during the holidays. In these cases, more frequent shipments of smaller volume may be required.

Limited capacity. The increased transport needs that arise during the holiday season can necessitate increased vessels and labor as well as a move to airfreight as deadlines get closer. Subsequently, freight costs tend to rise during this time of year.

While surely not insurmountable, these hurdles can make an already stressful time of year all the more burdensome for retailers. These strategies can help simplify your transportation logics this time of year:

Plan ahead. Developing a game plan well in advance of Thanksgiving will allow you to factor in enough cushion room to anticipate these potential hiccups.

Do your research. Market trends will help determine how much of what retailers should plan to order in order to meet the holiday spike in sales.

Enlist support. A proven and reliable logistics provider has the expertise and connections within the global supply chain to keep your operation running smoothly.

Jaguar Freight is a licensed freight forwarder that has been providing global supply chain management since 1993. Our team of logistics experts are committed to client satisfaction, providing each client with a personal point of contact. To find out more about how we can support your retail operation this holiday season, visit our website.

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