Quicargo's 2023 forecast for the freight forwarding industry

By Nadia Stauber
January 10, 2023 • 5 min read

Let's make 2023 the key year for innovation and growth.

Like many other industries, the recent years were exceptionally challenging for the European transport sector. Also in 2023, transportation and logistics will be confronted by immense change: new market entrants, new business models, new customer expectations, and new technologies. Like all change, this is accompanied by both risks and opportunities. In this short article we will discuss the key trends that will be shaping the industry in 2023.

1. Agility, flexibility, visibility

Events such as the continued effect of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, staff shortages or inflation continue to carry their effects on the market into the new year. Now more than ever, supply chains are subject to unpredictable challenges – often facilitated by digitalization. With the use of the right technology and capability to analyse and collect data, the freight industry can not only improve efficiency but is also prepared to capitalise on opportunities regardless of disruption and periods.

According to a survey by McKinsey, about 90% of people in a leading position operating in the field of supply chain said they were investing in more digitized supply chain management technology since 2021.

With 80% reporting to continue to invest further in 2023 and the coming years, this is definitely a trend to pay attention to.

2. Sustainability takes the centre stage

Sustainability measures have changed drastically over the recent years and will also continue to be a central trend for the freight forwarding industry in 2023. 71% of consumers worldwide are currently already making changes to shift towards sustainable products and services offered by companies, according to the 2022 Global Sustainability Study by Simon Kucher & Partners.

An Economist Intelligence Unit report has stated that searches for sustainable goods have increased by 71% since 2016.

Freight transport accounts for a total of 8% of global CO2 emissions.

This percentage is predicted to increase by 42%, totaling roughly 11% of all CO2 emissions by 2050, according to the Sustainable Freight Buyers Alliance. In many industries but especially in freight forwarding, there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to taking measures in terms of sustainability, and there is definitely no time to lose.

3. Effects of the economic crisis

Due to rising inflation and current geopolitical conditions, a slowdown in economic activity is predicted to continue in 2023. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts economic growth on a global level to decrease by 2.8%. The effects of inflation on the road freight industry could be especially seen in the extraordinary surge of diesel fuel costs in 2022. The Ti/Upply/IRU index of European road transport prices reached new highs in Q3 2022. Although we saw slight improvements towards the end of the year, operating costs are still highly influenced by fuel prices, so relative improvements could only be short-lived. The development of diesel prices remains a source of uncertainty in 2023.

4. Digitalization in the spotlight

Like most industries, digital transformation is also playing a key role we see in freight forwarding. By implementing digitalization and automation measures in logistical processes, efficiency can be improved as well as the ability to analyze and centralize data. This will lead to a greater ability to measure supply and demand and is therefore an essential feature to have.

According to Allied Market Research, the global digital freight forwarding market is expected to grow at an average rate of 23% over the next years.

With the growing importance of digital freight forwarding, 2023 should be the year for companies that want to be able to compete in the industry to put special emphasis on increasing their technological capabilities.

Let's turn risks into opportunities in 2023

2023 will be a year unlike any other for the freight industry. More resilient supply chains, more flexibility, more agility – companies need to be prepared to take on any challenge. Understanding freight forwarding industry trends is definitely crucial to solve this challenge –  and we’re sure that with this Quicargo forecast you can already set foot in the right direction!

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