In a remarkable milestone for the maritime industry, global dry bulk seaborne trade surged to a historic high in 2023, with over 5.37 billion metric tons (MT) of commodities transported, according to data from Trade Flows.
The year witnessed a consistent upward trajectory, as each quarter outperformed 2022 levels by an average of 3.1%. The strongest year-over-year performance occurred in the fourth quarter of 2023. Notably, over 150,000 individual laden legs were executed by Dry Bulkers, nearly matching the figures from the previous year.
Despite the increased demand, the active fleet experienced a modest overall growth of approximately 3%, with the Ultramax segment leading at over 8%, followed by a 4% gain in the Panamax fleet and a just under 3% increase in the Capesize fleet (120K to 220K MT of deadweight).
Iron Ore, the most commonly shipped dry bulk cargo, reached a historic high of over 1.6 billion MT in 2023, marking a 2.7% year-over-year increase. Although Australia, the largest exporter of Iron Ore, witnessed a 0.2% decrease, global supply rose due to significant contributions from Brazil (4.6% increase), Canada (4.2% increase), and a remarkable surge from India (183.9% increase). Ukrainian exports, on the other hand, plummeted by 89.7% due to ongoing geopolitical challenges.
Steam Coal shipments exceeded 1 billion MT for the first time, showing an 8% year-over-year increase. Indonesia and Australia boosted their exports, while Russia experienced a 2.9% decrease.
Coking Coal shipments rose by 3.4%, with Australia shipping less than in 2022. Russia emerged as the top exporter with a notable 21.3% increase.
Soybeans supply exhibited mixed trends, with Brazil setting a record with a 24.1% increase, while the US and Argentina witnessed declines. Canada’s Soybeans exports saw a staggering 355.7% year-over-year boost.
Other grain products saw a 13% year-over-year increase, with Brazil and Russia leading the way.
Bauxite quantities increased by 4%, despite declines in Indonesian and Australian exports.
In terms of demand, China emerged as a dominant player, importing over 2.17 billion MT of dry bulk, accounting for almost 40.5% of all voyages discharged. China’s demand for Iron Ore and Soybeans witnessed increases, while Japan and South Korea showed decreases.
Fleet utilization across vessel sizes increased in 2023, with notable gains in Handysize, Handymax, Supramax, and Ultramax segments.
Despite challenges in certain segments and commodities, the overall outlook for the global dry bulk industry in 2023 reflects a resilient and dynamic market. The Trade Flows tool provides a comprehensive view of the industry, offering accurate intelligence on both macro- and micro-levels.
To offer the best experiences, we use technologies such as cookies to store and/or access device information. Consent to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behavior or unique identifiers on this site. Failing to consent or withdrawing consent may adversely affect certain features and functions.
Storage or technical access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of allowing the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of transmitting a communication through an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.Storage or technical access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a request, voluntary compliance by your Internet service provider, or additional logging by a third party, information stored or retrieved solely for this purpose cannot be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.