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The VCFI is the index created by the Port Authority of Valencia to reflect the evolution of the market rates for the export of full containers by sea from Valenciaport. VCFI stands for Valencia Containerised Freight Index. This index will serve shippers as a tool to predict the evolution of freight rates within their markets of interest, which is a key determinant of the cost of their export operations. On the other hand, it will also be useful for operators that offer such services, providing a benchmark for the evolution of their own freight rates and those on the market.

VCFI General

VCFI June 2024

The Valencia Containerised Freight Index (VCFI) declined slightly by –1.30% in June, compared to the previous month, thus standing at 1,585.67 points and accumulating a growth of 58.57% since the beginning of the series in 2018. During the last period analysed, the largest falls were recorded in the United States and Canada, with a decrease of 23.45%, followed by the Far East with a drop of 13.82%, and Africa East Coast with a decrease of 6.11%. In contrast, there was a 15.34% increase in freight rates in the Africa Coast area, among others.

Although geopolitical conflicts are still a reality and have a direct influence on maritime market activity, in terms of the evolution of the world economy, according to the World Bank’s “Global Economic Prospects” report of June 2024, an improvement can be observed. The global economy is stabilising after several years of overlapping negative shocks, and despite geopolitical tensions and high interest rates. With this, global growth is projected to remain stable at 2.6% in 2024.

In the context of international trade, a pick-up in growth is anticipated in the coming years; however, it is projected to remain considerably below the average rates recorded in the two decades prior to the pandemic. Trade growth is estimated to reach 2.5 per cent in 2024 and then 3.4 per cent in 2025-26, marking a significant improvement over 2023. This forecast implies a pick-up in goods trade as inventory restocking resumes in advanced economies and demand for goods from China stabilises, with services trade growth stabilising close to its pre-pandemic pace.

In recent weeks, there has been a marked increase in demand for container shipments. According to the latest reading of the RWI/ISL Container Throughput Index, an increase in port traffic has been observed compared to the previous month, with the seasonally adjusted index rising to 129.9 points, up from a revised 129.1 points in the previous month. This increase in global container traffic is evidence of a further recovery in world trade in the second quarter, which should particularly support the economic recovery in Europe.

Indeed, the increase in port traffic in European ports was the main contributing factor to this increase. The North Range Index, which indicates economic developments in the Northern Eurozone and Germany, showed a significant increase from a revised 110.4 points to 111.9 points. This suggests a continuation of the recovery in container traffic after a fall in the previous month. However, in Chinese ports, container throughput decreased slightly from 143.2 points the previous month to 142.9 points. This slight decrease contrasts with the increase observed in Europe.

Looking at the factors affecting shipping supply, in the energy and commodities market, a slight increase in the average price per barrel of Brent crude oil was observed in June, reaching $82.25, compared to $81.75 in May, representing an increase of 0.98%. On the other hand, in the field of marine fuels, the cost of bunkering in the world’s top 20 ports, according to Ship&Bunker data, showed a slight decrease of 0.76 per cent for VLSFO (Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil), from $628.92 in May to $624.17 in June.

According to data published by Alphaliner, the idle fleet has returned to levels similar to those of the pandemic era. In the first half of 2024, idle tonnage averaged 0.7 per cent of the total container shipping fleet, reflecting a situation reminiscent of that observed during the pandemic. Currently, only 77 vessels with a total of 217,038 TEUs are commercially idle, as shipping lines have used all available capacity to maintain services. This figure has changed slightly from the previous survey, which counted 75 vessels and 216,914 TEUs.

As far as port congestion is concerned, according to the analysis of the consultancy Linerlytica, the situation has worsened markedly in recent months. Congestion now affects 8.4% of the total container fleet, representing a capacity of 2.51 million TEU. This increase of 8.4 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent in the previous reading is evidence of growing pressure on transhipment ports worldwide. There is no doubt that the crisis in the Red Sea continues to exacerbate port congestion, especially in key ports such as Singapore. Drewry reports that Singapore has recorded container density close to the levels seen during the height of the pandemic, as fewer vessels call, but average throughput increases. In addition, port productivity has declined dramatically, with a 43% increase in the time ships spend in port.

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VCFI Participating Companies

Sede APV - Edificio III, Avda. del Muelle del Turia, s/n
46024, Valencia (Spain)
Tel.: +34 96 393 94 00


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