Top 10 Container Shipping Companies In The World

Looking for the largest container shipping company by TEU capacity? Shipping is huge and large part of the cargo moves from one part of the world to another unnoticed yet safe; thanks to the 20 feet long cargo containers and the ships who carry them.

Container shipping is one of the key parts of the global transportation industry; the one which carries these cargo containers from one country to another.

If it wasn’t to be them especially these 10 biggest container shipping companies; we just might need to pay double for the price!

Container shipping and shipping as a whole really exploded after globalization as more and more countries start to trade with each other.

While there is no monopoly of any company or group in the industry; these 10 biggest container shipping companies account for a big part of overall trade.

In the shipping world, a company is not known for the number of ships it holds or money it makes last financial year; but the twenty-foot equivalent units ( T.E.U ).

It is the amount of cargo a company transport in the form of a standard 20 feet shipping container in a particular year.

The T.E.U does not account for the weight of the cargo but the total cargo it can possibly carry. So there is no fixed amount to how much cargo a container ship carries by weight.

While twenty feet equivalent unit is the main criteria which are generally looked for; the number of ships also plays a role in determining the size of the company.

Top 10 Container Shipping Companies In The World

A.P. Moller - The Maersk Group ( Maersk Line ) | 1st among Biggest Container shipping companies

1 ) A.P. Moller – The Maersk Group ( Maersk Line )

Also referred to as the “Maersk” or Maersk Line, the Danish-based shipping company is a part of the bigger AP Moller- Maersk group.

Founded in 1904 the company quickly become a key player in global shipping after the second world war.

With consistent growth in global container trade over the years; Maersk Line takes the place of the biggest container vessel fleet ( Cargo Carrier ) since 1996.

According to the recent statistics on its website; the Maersk group works across more than 120 countries worldwide with more than 340 ports served each last year.

With more than 700 container vessels in its fleet, Maersk accounts for 4,132,241 T.E.U ( Twenty- Foot Equivalent Unit ) shipped last financial year.

At present ( Based On company Last Financial Year Report ) A.P.Moller – The Maersk Group accounts for 18% of total market share.

In the last financial year; the company saw a 2.1% decrease in east-west trade, a 1.4% decrease in North-south Trade and 6.1% increase in intra-region trade by volume.

The company employees more than 90,000 direct and indirect workers with the finest training, safety, and support ( Lost Only 7 People while working in 2018 ).

Such a low number of casualties is possible due to the efficient risk management process of the Maersk group. This involves steps from risk identification, risk assessment, risk mitigation, and monitoring.

Since 2008 the company had reduced its carbon emission by 41%; and had set a target of “Net-Zero CO2 Emission” by 2050.

Recent Phenomenon – A.P.Moller The Maersk Group

Both Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line joined forces on 1 December 2017 to increase revenue, efficiency, and total market share.

Since both companies joined forces; there is a 26% increase in revenue for the Maersk Liner and growing each financial quarter. The company has seen a 0.1% reduction in its net volume shipped in the year 2019.

While the cash flow had increased to around 5,919 million Dollars ( USD ); the net interest-bearing debt decreased to USD 11.7bn in the financial year 2019.

The company is growing ever since and becoming more and more efficient working at a competitive price.

They are also investing heavily in reducing cover foodprint; so much so that they want to become net carbon neutral by 2050.

Furthermore, they also become the very first in offering electronic custom clearance; for its customers for ports in eight European countries i.e Germany, Denmark, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Poland, and Spain.

Even more, they have test run ships operated by biofuel for the 25,000 nautical miles journey from Rotterdam to Shanghai in 2019.

Top 10 Container Shipping Companies In The World

2 ) The Mediterranean Shipping Company Or Simply ( MSC )

Founded in 1970, the Geneva ( Switzerland ) based “Mediterranean Shipping Company” is engaged in global shipping and logistics across 155 countries.

Well known as the largest privately-owned cargo shipping company, it’s also a heavyweight in premium cruise liners. The company with its 580 vessels carry 3.6 million T.E.U cargo last year.

With 400 offices spread all across the world, 200 shipping routes and 500+ ports of call; the company targets all of the world’s major economies and emerging markets.

The company had expanded in its time from one shipping vessel to 580 with employees from less than a thousand to 70000+ ( Based on 2018 Annual Report On its Website ) within the last 48 years.

Beyond that MSC also provide logistics and IT solutions for maritime applications.

Over time the company has really diversified in different aspects of shipping; but still, container shipping is its largest chunk of revenue sources.

The company also seems to take pride in its excellent customer and business handling; e-business solutions, smart containers, and digitized cargo booking.

Recently following a deal with Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP); the company has decided to increase its investment in Terminal Investment Ltd (TiL).

The company has also added a global fuel surcharge of 1% to its shipping fees recently; to compensate for the increasing cost of operation due to So2 emission control 2020.

Recent Phenomenon – Mediterranean Shipping Company

In an effort to improve its service in cargo shipping; the Mediterranean shipping company had signed a new strategic cooperation with Maersk and ZIM for trade between Asia and the U.S East coast.

The company is well known for acquiring majority shares in Italian based shipping company “Messina Lines” in 2017.

The company has also invested heavily in its cruise-lines and logistics since 2014.

In 2017 the company also had faced investigation against alleged “Decreasing Service Quality” by the U.S. Department of Justice; which later turned in its favor.

Furthermore, the company had lost 270 containers in the North Sea last January.

The accident happened due to rough weather and lead to acute financial pressure on the company for its cleanup operation.

Even after the quick initial response, it took almost a month to completely clean off the nearby coasts. Similarly, at the port of Jebel Ali, one of the engineers on deck get accidentally electrocuted and later died.

China Ocean Shipping Company ( COSCO )

3 ) China Ocean Shipping Company ( COSCO )

The China Ocean Shipping Company or COSCO is the biggest shipping company outside of Europe or Western countries.

With its merger with China Shipping Group in 2016; the company becomes the 3rd largest in the world after Maersk and MSC.

Headquartered in Beijing the company is run and operated under the government of China.

With over 85 countries covered, 267 ports served, 355 routes and 361 working ships; the company is expanding consistently after its merger in 2016.

Other than the container ships the company also operates its dry cargo and supply vessels. The company has recently tried to buy some of its regional rivals especially in Hong Kong and Singapore.

By the end of 2019, the company captures 12% of the global container shipping with 2.9 million TEU capacity. In just three years 2016-19 the company has gone from 1.6 million TEU to 2.9 million TEU; with an increase in the fleet from 294 to 461.

Last year the company have made a total revenue of 130.50 million dollars ( Based On Company Internal Revenue Figures ); of which the large part came from its transpacific route.

Being the world’s 3rd largest container shipping network and biggest dry bulk carrier in China; it operates from regional headquarters around the world. Namely, Tokyo, New York, Seoul, Dubai, Singapore, Hamburg, Sydney, Singapore, Mumbai, and Beijing.

Recent Phenomenon – The COSCO Shipping Lines

On January 29, 2019, both COSCO SHIPPING Lines and Bolloré Transport & Logistics signed an agreement to work together.

Both companies had been supporting each other for the past 20 years and it’s only broadening their relationship in different sectors of shipping. This agreement will strengthen their position in Africa-Asia-Pacific region.

In a recent effort while companies like Maersk and CMA CGM are pushing hard to capture more market share; Cosco is looking beyond container shipping for expansion.

More into the logistics, port support and final mile delivery of goods and commodity. The only region where the company is pushing on its shipping effort in Africa.

On January 16, 2019, the company becomes the first in this region to have a container ship with more than 20,000 TEU capacity.

This ship was made by the company called “NACKS” and delivered in Nantong. The company has also opened an office in Europe in Rotterdam in a push for its heavy-duty bulk cargo market in European Union.

The CMA CGM Group ( A Container Shipping Companies )

4 ) The CMA CGM Group ( A Container Shipping Companies )

In 1978 two leading French shipping company Maritime D’Affrètement (CMA) and Générale Maritime (CGM) merged together to form a single entity; CMA CGM Group.

These two container shipping companies then dates back to the start of the 20th century; before coming together.

With over 500+ ships with 2.69 million TEU cargo carrying capacity its the fourth largest container shipping in the world; and certainly the biggest one in France.

The company work across 174 shipping routes covering 150+ countries and 400+ different seaports. With more than 500 offices the company employs more than 26,000 workers.

Since its merger, the CMA CGM Group works as state-owned cooperation till 1996 when it was finally privatized.

During the time and afterward, the company operates a number of ships from bulk carriers, dry cargo, containers, and Ro-Ro vessels.

After 2008 the company is also working in cruise liner business: but container shipping remains its top revenue source.

The company has seen consistent growth in its revenue with a jump of 22% in the 2019 financial year than 2018.

With total revenue of 30,254.2 million dollars last year; the company is investing heavily in research and the latest maritime developments.

Other than its good reputation worldwide; the company has been victimized in illegal transport of arms and ammunition a few times in the recent past.

Recent Phenomenon – CMA CGM Shipping Company

In a recent event, the company has hit the mark of 2.5+ million TEU cargo delivered for the second time in its history.

Despite increasing oil prices the company has managed to keep stable shipping rates.

In March 2019 the company made an order for 10 new container ships after the strategic partnership agreement with the state-owned Chinese shipbuilding company ( CSSC ).

These container ships of 15,000 TEU each is expected to be delivered by 2021; and are said to be equipped with LNG / Diesel Duel fuel Engine.

In an effort to push digitization the company has introduced “E-Solution Platform” to facilitate the free transfer of information between the company and its customer.

It includes facilities like eBill, eBooking, ePricing, payment, and tracking. The company is excelling well in providing a better container shipping solution at an affordable price.

But its also true that the company with its associates were in news from 2009 to 2011 for the transport of illegal arms and ammunition; unidentified or on the name of other listed items.


5 ) Hapag-Lloyd

Established in 1970 the German-based Hapag-Lloyd is one of the leading shipping companies in Europe with the finest record.

The company was established as the direct consequence of the merger between; Hamburg America Line and Norddeutscher Lloyd.

The company later was merged with a Chilean shipping company ( CSAV ) in 2014.

The company is owned by its 6 biggest investors along with its public shareholders which are; CSAV (25.8%), Klaus Michael Kühne (25.0%), HGV Hamburger (13.9%), Qatar Investment Authority (14.5%), Saudi Investment Fund (10.2%) and different private and public shareholders.

With 253 ships, 121 shipping routes and 600+ ports covered; the Hapag-Lloyd is certainly one of the leading container shipping companies in the world.

It has shipped a total of 1.7 million TEU of cargo last year and employs more than 12,000 employees worldwide across 128 countries.

The company mainly ship paper, chemicals, food products, machinery and plastic product across Asia and Europe.

The company proclaims itself to be the world’s first liner shipping company to have a dedicated dangerous goods department.

Having a tough internal guideline ensures your cargo is safe and secure while it’s shipped from Port A to B.

Recent Phenomenon – Hapag-Lloyd

In an event to cut the cost of operation and increase profitability; the company has signed a memorandum of cooperation with smaller shipping companies in recent times.

Which then reflects into more than expected profit of 109 million dollars in the first quarter of 2019. The company receives a big jump in earning at times it loss $42 million last year; at the same time.

The company in its digitization push wants to be the number one-liner shipping company with 100% digital service. In its strategy 2023, the company has made plans to digitize, grow, reduce emission and capitalize opportunities.

Further, the company has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.

Being from a culturally sound background the company knows of its importance to pay back to society.

The company plays big by working for society through a number of non-profit organizations. In a similar effort last year it shipped school material for free to somewhere in Haiti; for the construction of a school.

Top 10 Container Shipping Companies In The World
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6 ) Ocean Network Express – ( ONE )

One of the least known yet biggest container shipping company from Japan. The company was founded back in July 2017 after the three shipping companies; MOL, NYK, and K-Lines decided to merge their liner trade business in 2016.

While three major companies of the time were struggling to cope up with volatile fuel prices and economic slowdown; their joint venture made it the six largest container shipping companies in the world.

While the holding company is set up in Japan with shares of 38% NYK and 31% each for MOL and K-Lines. Their business headquarter is situated in Singapore.

With a combined fleet of 223 vessels, the company has a total capacity of 1.5 million TEU as of the information available on their website.

The company operates from its 90,000 local offices spread across 90 countries. Recently the company celebrated the commencement of its successful one year.

The company had started its ( Actual ) operation from April 2018 and soon establish a sense of trust and brand value among its old and new customers.

While the company reports for a net loss of 586 million dollars in its first year of operation. They are optimistic about the year 2020; after a US $5 million profit in the third quarter of 2019.

A far better result considering the company itself had predicted loss of 600+ million dollars in its maiden year of operation.

Recent Phenomenon – ONE Group

One of the biggest phenomenon in recent time which really shape this company was the coming together of three giants; to form this company in container shipping.

While the company has proudly emerged as the significant multi-company cooperation in liner trade. It’s losses put pressure on its holding companies ( MOL, NYK, K-Lines ).

Both NYK and K-Lines have faced great loss in the last financial year after significant profit for consistent years in the past.

Even the MOL ( One of Partner Container shipping Companies ) have faced significant setbacks in its last revenue figure. The only good news is that the company have planned for it and expect a good profit from this year.

Furthermore one of its large container ship “Yantian Express” undergone fire right after it completed its discharge of cargo containers.

This incident took place on May 21 and took quite an effort to get away with it. The incident left the unsecured containers left aside in the terminal till their security is ensured.

Evergreen Lines ( One of Prominent Container Shipping Companies )

7 ) Evergreen Lines ( One of Prominent Container Shipping Companies )

A shipping company based in Taiwan, it is a name used for the shipping branch of the evergreen group across the world. Founded in 1968 it operates 190+ ships on 240 ports worldwide. The company covered around 90+ countries with a total transport volume of 1.2 million TEU last year.

In January 2007 the company unified its four trade names; Evergreen Marine Corp, Italia Marittima, Evergreen Marine (U.K) and Evergreen Marine ( Hong Kong ) into Evergreen Lines. With over 4000+ direct employees it operates basically from all parts of the world’s major economies.

With its large number of the fleet, it used to be the number four biggest container shipping company till 2016; when the two giants ONE and COSCO formed out of a merger of two or more container shipping companies.

Despite the continued volatility in the global economy and ongoing trade wars, the company made a huge revenue of over 1.64 billion dollars ( U.S ) third quarter of last year.

The company mainly between the middle east, west Europe, Asia and the Pacific ( Western Coast – USA ).

With a global increase in demand with the 3% GDP growth worldwide; it has managed to utilize all its slots without a significant increase in operation cost.

Following the digital container push by the MSC; the company has recently joined the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA).

Recent Phenomenon – Evergreen Lines

In 2017 the entire Evergreen Fleet electrical system was modified to use shore electric power for nearly all purposes when docked; to reduce emission under the regulation from California Air Resource Board.

The company also introduced Type B container vessels by the end of 2017 as their main vessel for future.

These ships have a sword-type stern system which helps reduce the wave resistance thus reducing fuel consumption.

While the first of its kind delivered in 2017; it will take time until the company operates most of these ships.

For its continuous push for digitization efforts; the company was awarded “E-Commerce Excellence Award” for the year 2014-2016.

On September 01, 2018 the company celebrates 50Th Anniversary making commitments to go full speed ahead. In an event to expand its presence; the company had opened two new offices in Latin America.

Furthermore, to increase its fleet strength it charters 12 new ships of 11,000 TEU capacity each.

The Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation

8 ) The Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation

One of the largest and oldest shipping corporation; the Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation is the eight largest container shipping company in the world.

Came from an old tradition of marine transportation in China which dates back to the late 19th century. It was a part of the China Merchants Steamship Navigation Company; during the Ching Dynasty in 1872.

After a split, the company again merged together with its predecessor “China Merchants Steamship Navigation Company” in 1995.

The company Yang Ming as a whole was formed in 1972. It starts its operation by linking Taiwan with the ports on mainland China. Today the company operates across Australia, Asia, Europe, and America.

With a fleet of 100 vessels, the company captures 2.9% of the container shipping market; with 0.61 million TEU shipped last year.

According to information at their website; the company also operates ( Provide Charter in ) 360 non-Yang Ming ships. The emphasis on Teamwork, Pragmatism, Innovation, and Integrity as its core value.

In the year 2017, the company has made a gross revenue of $ 131,077,812 with a gross profit of $ 6,495,223.

In comparison it made $ 115,400,150 revenue in 2016 with gross profit of $ 9,063,759. Similarly, revenue generated in 2018 was 4.70 billion dollars and 1.14 billion dollars; in the first quarter of 2019.

Recent Phenomenon – The Yang Ming Group

On April 10th, 2019 the company signed a charter agreement for four 11,000 TEU container ships. The agreement was signed between the Yang Ming and Yukito Higaki ( Ship Building Company ); to deliver the ships by the end of 2022.

These new ships are part of an effort to replace the aging fleet; with one complying the latest IMO Regulations.

The company also introduced two newly build ultra-large container ships ( 14,000 TEU ); YM Warranty and YM Wellspring into its fleet on March 6, 2019.

Similarly, the company had introduced tow new large ships in the past named YM Wonderland and YM Wisdom; in December 2018 of 14,000 TEU each.

For its consistent quest for modernization of its fleet to keep up with the latest technology and regulation; helps secure “2018 Quest Quality Award”.

As its sole motto the company always put its customer first and modernization a second priority. So much so that it orders 15+ container ships after 2018.

9 ) Pacific International Line – ( P.I.L )

The company PIL ( Pacific International Line ) was incorporated on March 16, 1967, in an independent Singapore. Right after its formation, it becomes a leading shipping company in this part of the world ( South East Asia ). With a total fleet capacity of 119 ships, it provides service to more than 500 places in the world.

Established by the Chinese entrepreneur “Chang Yun Chung”. It started its journey from just two ships and become part of the top 10 container shipping companies in the world today.

The company dominates mainly in the south china sea and trade route between far east ( China+Japan+Korea ) to the American west coast.

Other than that it also operates across major trade routes connecting Europe, Australia, middle east and parts of Asia.

Other than container shipping the company also operates in business such as; container manufacturing and last-mile logistics support.

The company operates from its different offices spread across 38 countries.

Unlike many other container shipping companies that focus more on transpacific trade routes; the company focuses more on emerging markets like Africa, China, India, and the Middle East.

In the last financial year, the company is believed to made 100+ million dollars; just like 114.2 and 119.5, it makes in the year 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.

Recent Phenomenon – Pacific International Line

In an effort to enhance its transpacific service the company has introduced its new route from Vietnam and America ( West Coast ).

Furthermore, they are adding Haiphong in their port of call between China and U.S West coast. Similarly in an effort to boost its middle east trade; it introduced new routes between China and the Middle East.

In an effort to modernize its services across all major routes; the company is partnering with IBM to introduce a blockchain delivery network.

The whole step is meant to digitize the whole process thus improving the overall efficiency and profit. The company is growing consistently with profit; yet expected to shift again to 10th position in recent future.

Furthermore, the company has to outmaneuver the COSCO effort to buy the company; while reducing its Large debt of 4.43 Billion as it put more and more risk to collapse or merger.

As the company was forced to offload ( Transfer ) five of its container manufacturing sites to COSO recently.

Hyundai Merchant Marine ( Among Growing Container Shipping Companies )

10 ) Hyundai Merchant Marine ( Among Growing Container Shipping Companies )

Hyundai Merchant Marine is a Korea based logistics company that provides one of the finest transport services worldwide.

Founded in 1976 the company plays a vital part in the economic development of South Korea. In the beginning, the company only trade between the far east and the middle east; before expanding itself globally.

While container shipment remains its core strength; the company also operates bulk carriers, support vessels, and special product carriers.

With an active fleet of 79 ships accounting for 405,649 TEU; the company becomes the 10th among biggest container shipping companies in the world.

They have pushed a lot for its fleet modernization and ordered a large number of ships. Accounting for the ships it already ordered it becomes the 9th largest shipping company in the world.

With expansion goals in mind, the company also invests heavily in securing container terminals, inland logistics, and manpower.

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Amit Abhishek

A Marine engineer turned professional blogger who had started In Jan 2018 after a brief experince at sea.

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