As shippers seek ancillary services from providers, competitive pressure is put on the traditional freight forwarder. In its July 2005 study, Global Freight Forwarding, Transport Intelligence (U.K., www.transportintelligence.com) notes that while the fragmented market lends itself to smaller enterprises entering the field, a number of "companies have achieved product differentiation through worldwide freight networks, underpinned by global technology."
Providers that match that description include UPS, Expeditors, DHL, Panalpina and Kuehne + Nagel. The study speculated there would be continued consolidation of the market, favoring the major players' ocean and sea freight operations." (Logistics Today cooperated with Transport Intelligence on the 2005 study and is doing so again on the 2007 study currently being conducted.)
There's little doubt that the 2005 prediction of further consolidation has played out in the intervening years. Today, the PWC Logistics group of companies encompasses GeoLogistics, TransOceanic and Trans-Link and has rebranded itself as Agility. Deutsch Bahn AG acquired Bax Global and has paired it with Schenker (www.schenker.com), which it previously acquired with the Stinnes Group.
With eyes toward emerging Asian nations, particularly India, several moves have been made of late to enhance freight forwarding activities to that region. C.H. Robinson Worldwide (Eden Prairie, www.chrobinson.com) acquired an India-based freight forwarder, Tribune, whose primary strength is in air and ocean international forwarding along with customs clearance services. Seattle, Wash.-based Lynden International (Anchorage and Seattle, www.lynden.com) and Kerry Logistics (Hong Kong, www.kerrylogistics.com) have signed a joint venture agreement that combines sales and operating resources in North America and Asia. The two have created a new service network that includes Europe and India.
Issues remain for the larger providers. In the July 2005 study, there were significant gaps between what shippers regard as important and perceived performance on those matters by forwarders. Early results of the 2007 study indicate that work still needs to be done in this area by forwarders.