How many shipping containers are shipped each year?

How many shipping containers are shipped each year?

In the modern global economy shipping containers play a crucial role in facilitating the transportation of various products across borders. They offer a uniform and economical mode of carrying goods such as finished commodities, unprocessed materials and bulky equipment. As international commerce continues to expand there is an escalated requirement for these cargo vessels worldwide. This article examines the annual shipment volumes of shipping containers along with factors affecting their quantities transported each year.

The global shipment of containers in 2020 reached around 226 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) encompassing both filled and vacant containers as stated by the World Shipping Council. The TEU is a standard measuring unit utilized to gauge container ships’ or terminals’ capacity indicating the size of a 20 ft long container.

Over the years there has been a consistent rise in the annual shipment of shipping containers. The global container throughput was approximately 802 million TEUs in 2019. Although international trade suffered due to COVID-19 pandemic and experienced a decline in container traffic, it regained momentum during the second half of 2020 resulting in a growth rate of 1.9% for Q4 as compared to that of 2019’s same time period.

There are multiple factors that impact the quantity of shipping containers transported annually. International trade plays a significant role as it drives up demand for container transportation due to the expansion of global commerce. Additionally, economic development and industrialization in emerging nations have also played a part in the increase of container shipments since there is more production and exportation occurring.

The annual volume of containers transported greatly depends on the capacity of container ships and terminals. The quantity of containers that can be carried in one voyage is directly proportional to the size of these vessels or facilities. Consequently, there has been a trend towards building mega-ships with capacities exceeding 20,000 TEUs. Currently the world’s largest container ship is HMM Algeciras which can hold up to 24,000 TEUs.


Ultimately; the quantity of containers transported annually is influenced by infrastructure, technology and regulations. Improved ports as well as rail and road connections alongside sophisticated logistics systems can augment container throughput. Furthermore, procedures linked to safety measures security protocols and environmental protection have the potential to impact container shipping through mandating supplementary documentation and processes.

To summarize, there has been a consistent rise in the volume of shipping containers transported annually. The worldwide shipment of 226 million TEUs in 2020 can be attributed to various factors such as progress in infrastructure and technology, economic expansion and international trade. As the trend toward global commerce intensifies container transportation will retain its essential role within the global economy.

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