The Top 5 Container Shipping Companies In The World


Container shipping is at the core of the global economy, with this industry ensuring that goods can flow freely across continents, helping with global commerce and trade. The top shipping companies in this industry are not just transporters. They are, in fact, pivotal to driving international trade, regulations, and economic dynamics. Whether you’re looking for chartering jobs or you’re simply curious to know more about the industry, in this article, we’ll be diving into the top five container shipping companies based on their cargo capacity, fleet size, and industry positioning. 


Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) 


Number Of Ships: 800 approximately. 


TEU Capacity: 5,614,057 


MSC was founded in 1970 and is Swiss-based. It has recently reached the top spot in the global shipping industry with some strategic acquisitions and enhancements to their existing fleet, leading to serious expansion. This aggressive expansion led to the addition of nearly 100 ships, allowing MSC to become a dominant force in the industry. Despite this expansion, however, MSC has a strong focus on green technologies and digitalisation in an attempt to reduce its environmental footprint and improve operational efficiencies to help it to grow even further. 




Number Of Ships: 675 approximately 


TEU Capacity: 4,117,136 


Hailing from Denmark, APM-Maersk has long been a frontrunner in the container shipping industry. The company is well-renowned for its size and efforts to improve environmental sustainability not just within its company but within the industry as a whole. Maersk’s pioneering efforts have seen the company make significant strides in integrating green fuel alternatives. They also have already integrated digital solutions into their operations, something that many other container shipping companies aim to replicate. 


CMA CGM Group 


Number Of Ships: 624 approximately 


TEU Capacity: 3,578,494 

The French shipping giant CMA CGM Group was established in 1978 and currently holds third position in the standings based on size of the company. Due to the forward-thinking leadership of Jacques Saade, the company has grown significantly through mergers and strategic expansions, which has allowed CMA CGM to operate within 150 shipping routes across the globe. With ecological initiatives being heavily invested in, particularly with the adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) the company has long held a commitment to innovation and sustainability. 


COSCO Shipping Lines 


Number Of Ships: 490 approximately 


TEU Capacity: 3,054,323 


The China Ocean Shipping Company is more commonly known as COSCO. It is based in China and is one of the biggest conglomerates in the container shipping industry. The company has recently slipped to fourth in the list due to the rise in mergers from CMA CGM, however, COSCO is expected to boost their capacity in the very near future significantly. With an extensive network and digital transformation initiatives, COSCO is set to continue to remain robust in such a competitive market, with many growth plans due to come into existence in the next few years. 




Number Of Ships: 266 approximately 


TEU Capacity: 1,963,934 


The German company Hapag-Lloyd is well-known in the industry and comes with a rich history dating all the way back to 1970. The company was born from the merger of Hamburg-American Line and the North German company Lloyd. While many companies focus on green practices, Hapag-Lloyd takes pride in their traditional approach of being highly regarded for their customer service, operational efficiency, and innovative practices. Two of the most important features for the future of the company are its use of digital tools to help boost route management and customer interactions to improve loyalty and lifetime value. 




Despite its dynamic and evolving nature, the container shipping industry will always be the backbone of global trade. Influenced predominantly by economic shifts, trade policies, and technological innovations, the top five container shipping companies in the industry will continue to lead the market - not just in terms of size but also due to their pioneering approaches to many industry challenges. With a continued focus on sustainable practices and reducing their carbon footprint, we expect to see many companies in the industry follow suit. The strategic direction of these industry giants is only going to shape what the future of the industry will look like.

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