10 Biggest Shipping Companies in the World 

Table of content

Shipping company

Updated on 21/02/2024

When ordering goods online or purchasing in brick-and-mortar stores, few people stop to think about the supply chain that puts the item in their hand. But the shipping industry is a huge, global network of fleets, offices, and systems that transport everything you buy from manufacturer to warehouse, store to home.  

In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 largest global shipping companies as measured by TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units). The TEU is used as a unit of measurement that is used to determine cargo capacity and is derived from the dimensions of the standard 20-foot shipping container.  

Taking a Look at the 10 Biggest Global Shipping Companies

The following companies transport the greatest amount of cargo and represent the largest global freight shipping companies in 2023 according to Alphaliner data.

The biggest companies change places all the time, so it’s important to look at the list often to get the information.

1-Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. (MSC)

logo msc

MSC was founded in 1970 and operates out of Geneva, Switzerland. They are a privately owned company and have a fleet of over 500 container vessels that offer a capacity of over 5.6 million total TEU.  Overall, this company have 800 ships, they added more than 100 ships to their fleet the last year. 

Delivering dry cargo as well as reefer cargo, MSC stops at 500 ports on 200 trade routes globally. They employ over 70.000 people and have a yearly revenue of around 28 billion.  

2-AP Moller-Maersk Group

logo maersk

This Danish company has been in operation since 1904, and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. They are the largest vessel and container ship operation in the world, and have several subsidiaries providing transport and logistics operations.  

They operate in 130 countries, shipping approximately $675 billion worth of goods yearly. They employ 76.000 people and ship 4.115.050 total TEU.

They have around 675 container ships in their fleet.

3-CMA CGM Group

logo cma cgm

This French company operates from Marseille and was founded in 1978. Their acronym comes from the French language for “Maritime Freighting Company-General Maritime Company”. They offer a variety of services including vessel and container fleet management, cargo cruises, logistics, and freight delivery.  

While based in France, it operates through 160 companies, 755 agencies, as well 750 warehouses. Employing 110.000 people, CMA CGM group ships 3.578.494 total TEU.  

The company has a fleet of 624 ships and operate over 150 maritime routes.

What is the Meaning of ETA, ETD, ATD, & ATA in Shipping ?

Companies and people around the globe rely on precise predictions of when a vessel will arrive with a shipment of goods and services. In shipping, ETA means…

4-China Cosco Group

logo cosco

COSCO stands for China Ocean Shipping Company, a government-owned shipping and logistics concern for the People’s Republic of China. They have several subsidiaries including OOCL, COSCO Shipping Co Ltd, New Golden Sea, and Shanghai Pan Asian Shipping.  

With more than 10.000 ships (around 490 container ships) and 360 dry bulk vessels, COSCO visits more than a thousand ports globally. They have 130.000 employees and a revenue of 7.2 billion RMB (renminbi).  

They ships more than 3.1 million total TEU.

Cosco stand to add around 50 ships and 850.000 TEU to their fleet and capacity.

5-Hapag-Lloyd

logo hapag lloyd

Hapag-Lloyd is a German container shipping and logistics company founded in 1970. This company stops at 600 ports and serves 130 countries with a capacity of 1.963.950 TEU. Their fleet offers 118 liner services worldwide, besides being an ocean carrier for Intra-America, Latin America Transatlantic, and Middle East trades. This shipping company has around 265 ships. 

6-ONE (Ocean Network Express)

logo ocean network express

ONE began trade in 2018 and is headquartered in Singapore. It’s a joint venture between K-Line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, and Mitsui OSK Lines, and for such a young company has an impressive capacity of 1.799.850 TEU. They employ 14,000 people and have a revenue of 2.87 billion dollars.  

 This company has around 231 vessels in their fleet.

The company serves more than 120 countries and has container terminals in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

7-Evergreen Marine Corporation 

With primary trade routes between the Far East and countries in the Americas, the southern hemisphere, northern Europe, and the East Mediterranean, Evergreen Marine Corporation is a mainstay in Taiwan. They have a fleet of over 200 container ships that have a capacity of 1.645.850 total TEU that travel to 240 global ports.  The fleet of this shipping company is around 211 container ships.

The company employs over 10.000 people and is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan.

What is the Meaning of ETA, ETD, ATD, & ATA in Shipping ?

Companies and people around the globe rely on precise predictions of when a vessel will arrive with a shipment of goods and services. In shipping, ETA means…

8-Hyundai Merchant Marine 

logo hmm

Besides offering international shipping solutions, Hyundai Merchant Marine also offers supply chain solutions for refrigerated, dry, and specialty cargo. It is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, and has been in operation since 1976.  

The company operates a fleet of over 160 vessels. Hyundai Merchant Marine serves more than 100 countries and has container terminals in South Korea, China, and the United States.

They have a revenue of 4.6 billion dollars and employ 1200 to 5000 people. Their shipping capacity is 785.730 TEU.

9-Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation

logo yang ming

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Taiwan, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation offers international logistics and shipping services. They serve over 70 countries at 170 ports and have an operating capacity of 7.74 million deadweight tonnages.  

Yang Ming serves more than 80 countries worldwide and they have container terminals in the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, and Taiwan. Employing over 5.000 people they can handle 708.614 total TEU.  

10-Zim Integrated Shipping Services

ZIM Integrated Shipping Services is a global container shipping company headquartered in Haifa, Israel. It was founded in 1945 and has since grown to become one of the world’s leading container shipping companies.

ZIM offers international logistics and shipping services, with a focus on containerized cargo. The company operates a fleet of over 120 vessels, with a total capacity of approximately 700.000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

ZIM has a strong presence in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, serving more than 100 countries and operating at more than 180 ports worldwide.

Others maritime companies in the top

In 2023, Wan Hai Lines was at the top of the biggest maritime companies. This company was launched in 1976. They have now, around 120 ships with a capacity of 485.000 TEUs.

Pacific International Lines (PIL), was founded in 1967, has a capacity of 295.00 TEUs and operates 88 ships.

How Understanding the Top Companies Can Benefit Your Business

You may be wondering how these companies may relate to your own business. If you run your own company, it’s a good idea to understand just how the supply chain operates. These global shipping companies offer the best picture of efficiency and route optimization for goods. Sufficiently large companies may choose to do business with one of these shipping magnates or their subsidiaries.  

Conclusion

Taking a closer look at the global shipping industry really paints a clearer picture of how goods get from manufacturer to a brick-and-mortar store or your doorstep. It’s a good practice to understand how the system works, especially if you are a business owner. Especially now when there are so many chains supply issues due to the global pandemic. There are so many factors to consider in a global economy and digging into some of the top companies can help you understand the enormity of the processes.  

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