Shippers envision rate increases in 2010

OTTAWA — Turning the corner on a dismal 2009, a recent survey indicates shippers expect modest growth in their volumes and in rate increases of their carriers in 2010.

That’s just one of the findings in the fifth annual benchmarking survey undertaken by Supply Chain Surveys Inc. for the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association (CITA).

Each year CITA canvasses its membership to take the pulse of the shipper community and to provide its members with benchmarks and best practice information to assist them and their companies to better manage their transportation and logistics activities.

The survey covers several modes of transport: air freight, marine, rail, truck, and courier.

The respondents reported that both volumes and costs were generally lower in 2009 as compared to 2008. In 2009, volumes averaged 92 percent of the previous year and 58 percent of respondents saw their carrier rates decline.

Regarding service, 79 percent of the respondents experienced service levels comparable to 2008, or some slight improvement. The report highlights the on-time scores of all modes and shows the trend of shipper experiences over the five years of the survey.

Looking forward to 2010, the survey group expects modest growth in volumes and rate increases. For example, rate increases are forecast to be under 2 percent for airfreight, courier, and truckload; slightly under 4 percent for LTL, intermodal, and rail; and as much as 10 percent in ocean shipping where rates have been severely depressed during the recession. No substantial modal shift is planned by the survey companies.

The 2009 core survey report includes information from the new Canadian General Freight Index (CGFI), tracking general trucking rates and trucking fuel surcharges over time. The CGFI, published by Nulogx Inc., shows that trucking charges grew by over 14 percent in the first half of 2008 prior to the recession and then declined by nearly 16 percent in the 12-month period ending August 2009.

The core survey is followed each year by an in-depth survey looking more closely at shippers’ experiences with one or more modes of freight transportation.

This year’s in-depth survey will focus on rail intermodal and less-than-truckload (LTL) trucking. The in-depth report will be released early in 2010.

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