Despite rising volume levels of freight in the US, the domestic water freight market experienced a negative compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 2% during the five year period of 2006-2011, to reach just over 500 billion ton-miles.
The US water freight market looks set to continue to shrink in the face of competition from trucks, rail and intermodal (rail/truck) transport. During the recession, sluggish manufacturing production and slow retail spending reduced the demand for freight transportation even further.
However, on a positive note, industry conditions are set to improve as the economy stabilises and demand for freight services increase once more.
Additionally, recovering consumer confidence and increased spending will support growth in the US water freight market, boosting industry demand. By 2020, these market drivers are set to double the volume of cargo shipped by water from that of 2001 volumes.
Most freight consists of dry bulk cargo and is carried aboard barges known as hoppers. This includes grain, coal, and chemicals. Much of total domestic production of basic commodities and finished products is shipped by water, including apples, wastepaper, corn, lumber, iron ore, steel, scrap steel, potatoes, phosphate, plastics, film, machinery, and modular homes.
Key players within the US water freight market include; Ingram Industries, a company that operates barges and boats on America's inland waterways, and ships grain, ore, and other products. Kirby Corporation, the premier tank barge operator in the United States, transporting bulk liquid products throughout the US, and SEACOR Holdings, an operator of bulk commodity barges along the US Inland River Waterways; specialising in the purchase, storage, transportation, and sale of agricultural and energy commodities.
For more information on the US water freight market, see the latest research: US Water Freight Market Report
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