Episode 15:
Identifying reliable data in the supply chain with Peter Sand

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Are you scrutinising your data enough to understand if you’re getting the best rates and space?

Tune into Episode 15 of Freight to the Point as Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at Xeneta and Helena Wood discuss how shippers should be looking at the data to understand how to navigate the market, especially as rates have come under pressure in recent months.

This episode explores:

  • the value of understanding the data in your business
  • how to seek reliable information in your data
  • Peter’s predictions for the market over the coming months

Peter Sand
Peter is the Chief Analyst of Xeneta, the rate benchmarking platform. Before joining Xeneta, Peter was the Chief Analyst at BIMCO for over ten years and prior to that, he worked at DS Nordon, a Danish shipping company, operating in the dry cargo and tanker segments worldwide as a Senior Analyst.


Helena WoodHello, and welcome to Episode 15 of Freight to the Point, a podcast by Zencargo. I’m Helena Wood and today I am absolutely thrilled to be joined by Peter Sand, the chief analyst from Xeneta, the rate benchmarking platform. Peter’s had an incredibly fruitful career in the supply chain space after being the chief shipping analyst at BIMCO. Over 10 years there. He worked at the Danish shipping business. He was at D/S NORDEN prior to that. So welcome Peter. It’s absolutely fantastic to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

It’s my pleasure being on your show, Helena, and a very kind introduction. I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of this podcast. I think that’s a great way of sharing insights amongst all of us that are just eager to know more about global supply chains and what is really going on.

Peter SandHelena WoodWell, we’re thrilled to have you here, and always love having another enthusiast for supply chain with us. But let’s get freight to the point, Peter. Tell us, how did you start off in the industry?

Pure coincidence. Pure magic, I guess, also. Because what I wanted to seek after doing lot of statistics and statistics Denmark, focusing on the world around us, international relations, I thought, well, I might as well want to join, say, a position which is close to business leaders and some that impact the industry. I was seeking for executive assistance and I got into shipping in that regard. Joining the good Danish company, D/S NORDEN, which you refer to in your opening. The rest is not only history, but at least that’s how I began in shipping, getting to learn about dry bulk shipping and oil product tankers at that point in time. And today almost well a decade and a half ago, I’m all about container shipping and air cargo here at Xeneta.

Peter SandHelena WoodFantastic. So it was coincidence that got you into the industry, but what made you stay? What is it that you love about shipping that keeps you getting out of bed every morning?

It’s the excitement about what is really going on. I am a keen supporter of staying curious. I think you can learn something new every day about the business, about the world, about global politics, and about human behaviour, human being relationship building. That’s what basically drives me not only out of bed every day, but makes me jump out of bed. Because I think it’s super exciting to be working, especially right now, when there are fires left, right and centre in the global supply chains. It really is a tough challenge, to stay on top of all the things that goes on, and of course deliver a sober prediction on what comes next and how long do we need to suffer with the current environments.

Obviously Xeneta customers, the global shippers of the world, like Ikea or John Deere or Walmart, I mean, as good as they are at what they do, they are still at the mercy of the service that global carriers can deliver, the service that global freight forwarders can deliver, and basically also the market conditions. How much do they need to spend on making sure that what they produce at one end of the world can get to their customers at the other end of the world.

I guess wrapping it all up in a fine basket, in my younger years, and I still do love very much geography. I love very much also economics. And I think, well, container shipping or shipping in general is where those two ends meet and they do not clash, they basically embrace one another. That’s why I love to get out of bed every morning and get to know more about this crazy industry.

Peter SandHelena WoodLoads of great points in there. I love the way you talk about there’s certainly a sort of academic itch that being in this space manages to scratch around geography, geopolitics, how it all comes together. There’s a fantastic book, which I’m sure you’ve read, called Prisoners Of Geography that talks about the way that the entire world is connected and how that impacts the choices that we make and the situations we find ourselves in. I think it’s so fascinating just to continue to watch how all of these things keep evolving. It’s certainly not a static state.

No, by no means. And if I may add on top of that, I think it’s also a world where academics can support those of… you can call them the real actors out there. Those with a lot of, say, anecdotal insights, those that have been working in the industry for decades also, but perhaps without the wider scope of things. So when you combine a solid academic background with the right operational people, then you really get to the magic that we try to deliver every day at Xeneta to our customers. And also at the benefit of the wider global supply chain, logistics industry professionals.

Peter SandHelena WoodIt sounds like a potent mix. And Peter, for anyone on our listeners who doesn’t know what Xeneta does, or maybe what a chief analyst may do at a business, would you mind giving us a little bit of an intro to the business and to your role?

Very much so. What I try to do is to make sense of it all every day and try to respond to those questions coming in from, well, east, west, north, and south on where is the markets heading, the global container shipping markets, and why. What is going on right now? How does that impact my business? Because you can look at the insights that Xeneta deliver on a daily basis, the container shipping spot freight rates on 160,000 port pairs on a global scale. Regardless if you are the biggest shipper of the world or one of the smaller fish in the ocean, you will find that critical port pair on the spot market. But also, if you are at least a shipper of a certain size where you also hold the opportunity to negotiate long term contracts with your freight forward or directly with the carriers, you can get that business critical insights. Not only on where are freight rates right here, right now, where are they also likely to be in the coming quarter, quarters, years ahead, but also all the underlying factors that makes the market.
That’s where we’re proud also at Xeneta to partner with sea intelligence, for instance. Giving a bit more insights into global schedule reliability. Meaning how great is the service that global carriers right now deliver to global shippers? I mean, how accurate, how punctual are they? Or right now, how appallingly low is that service that they offer at a very high price right now? So Xeneta brings all of that together, and I think we at least try to claim our famous as being the number one benchmarking platform for container shipping freight rates and air cargo freight rates, and also intelligence that surrounds all that.
I guess that’s also why I’m here today, trying to make sense of it all. Not only explain why Ever Given gets stuck in the Suez Canal, but I would say that was definitely also a game changer for container shipping and global logistics. Breaking that even, let’s say, a wall of silence to the general public, but right now it has certainly become every man’s daily thing to do. Check up on global supply chains. That was certainly not the case a year and a half ago.

Peter SandHelena Wood

Well, you’re right. I mean, it’s amazing actually for all of us who work in the supply chain space, to have almost the vindication of being in the global spotlight again. But of course, for many shippers on a day to day basis, that makes things really tough. I imagine there are lots of shippers who might be listening to a podcast like this thinking, “It’s been two years.” There’s been consistent volatility. It was COVID, then it was the Ever Given, then they’ve had all the queuing outside the ports in LA. And many people are in a very different role than possibly what they signed up for. They’re having to account to the board, they’re reporting at a senior level, their budgets have gone up, so the scrutiny is on.
I can imagine that market intelligence is obviously super useful to a shipper today, but perhaps we can turn that into more tangible terms. What are some of the direct benefits that you see shippers feeling from actually working with up to date and accurate global market intelligence like the stuff that you guys supply?
Well, I think first of all, of course, what we do at Xeneta is make everyone better at their work. We provide them basically with the power and insights to be on top of their business to an even bigger extent than what they are already. Because many of, say, the daily calls that we have with customers are with freight procurement professionals that are on top of the market which they work in. But they are facing the challenge of explaining why are things going in this direction or that direction when talking to their CFO or their CEO which all of a sudden reads headlines from a Wall Street Journal or a Journal of Commerce or Reuters or Bloomberg saying that, okay, supply chains are snarling again. We have a COVID lockdown in China. It’s super complex, understanding those main headlines on a day to day business level.
One of the things that we certainly assist our members in understanding is that conveying the message of things are super complex and there is so much more to it than the headline. I guess if you’re working with the press or media, you will know that you always need to have that, say, journalistic twist to the story. But what we at least seek is to empower also our customers with more internal ammunition in letting them know that, okay, things are going to be tough for at least another year until things settle down again. And they will gain that from understanding the data behind. They will gain that from matching their own data on a very complex level. And more so also, if they can get into that vital dialogue with their C-suite level internally in the business, they may even also get more insights into how can they make their own supply chains more resilient going forward.
Because I think that’s the one thing that is in everyone’s interest right now. How can we make sure that what has been going on for two years now will never repeat itself again? How can I running a company make sure that other people may struggle, but I have a more resilient supply chain? What do I do then? Do I set up a business in other parts of the far east Asia outside China? Do I bring some of my production back to where my key customers are in north Europe, in South America, in North America? Getting that, say, dialogue starting from an intelligent perspective and making sure that the complexity of global networks and global supply chains is also recognised. Because many of our customers also have massively complex global networks of containers moving east, west, north, south. There are no low hanging fruits in terms of making your supply chains more resilient going forward perhaps, but for keeping a huge amount of goods in store on inventory.
But I guess that’s not really possible for many businesses as products evolve, products get smarter. Some products even are perishable goods, so obviously you can’t do that. If you are, say, a shipper of refill goods, that needs to be handled with care. That are seasonal produce. So there’s always complexity to that and I think that’s what excites me also when working with industry professionals out there. Being mostly from the analytical side of business, but of course also working more and more with industry professionals and then combining the forces. I think that is where magic happens.
Peter SandHelena Wood
It sounds like it. So much to unpack, Peter, in what you’re saying there, because the first point around complexity, I think, is one that many, many shippers will relate to, which is this complicated, intertwined global network that is supply chain. Which, let’s be clear, isn’t data poor. There’s plenty of data. There are many data sources. Now I think we could all have quite a fun time questioning the accuracy and the recency of a lot of the data that we look at and of the intelligence that many people might be looking at.
I wonder if you could give any of our shippers listening today practical tips on where to look for information and what to prioritise. Because I can imagine shippers today sitting thinking, “I’ve got too many data points. I don’t know which data point to look at to get my crystal ball out and think about the future. Who do I trust? What do I trust?” So what’s your simple guidance for anyone that’s sitting in that position?
I fully subscribe to your way of saying this, that there is actually an overload of information around out there. But if you scrutinise the original sources, that’s where you find the nuggets that you will need to stay on top of and where you also find out which data sources may not be of core interest to you when making decisions going forward. I mean, Xeneta of course provides a business critical information in terms of the freight rates for spot and long term. But certainly, I mean, there’s more to it than that.
In my team of our market analysts, we’re always seeking to work with, say, a limited number of sources. Meaning that we do not subscribe to the idea of bringing in thousands and thousands of various sources into an AI, machine learning system that will then, without any of us knowing what goes on, give us a point in direction without any of us knowing where that’s heading. The way that we work here is to make sure that we understand the sources, what they mean to container shipping, and how they translate into our business.
Let me give you an example. Consumer confidence is a much watched indicator and sometimes also poorly translated into an indicator which is relevant for container shipping. I have tried many times, failed an equal number of times, connecting the dots in consumer confidence and boxes moved on a global scale. Having said that, there may be a little bit of, say, explanation between the two, but by far we’re not talking about, say, causality 100% here. It’s more relevant focusing on data, on port congestion for instance. It’s more relevant to follow, say, trustworthy news in whichever form they may come about the new corona lockdowns in far east Asia. Not necessarily only in China, but also other places. And make sure that you always scrutinise the data that you look into. Make sure that you can verify them from different sides of things, and make sure that you constantly try to stay on top of what new data comes around.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Do not expect access to AIS data, the data that may pinpoint the exact position of any ship on a global scale. You will get a certain set of information from that, but you always need to learn about the history. You cannot only look at a right here right now image of where container ships are and have an opinion or get some brilliant insights on the back of that. You need to know also where did these ships once go? Are they stuck here for a long time, or are they here only for a brief moment? Always look back, understanding your history, where you come from, where the markets come from. That’s also where you get, say, more fundamental facts. Use that insight to gain at least some sort of tangible feeling of where is the market right here right now, because you are working in a vacuum of information. You only really ever have very hard facts on where you are right here right now. But you need to make sure that you’re not, say, just flying or floating without any, say, solid foundation when you then try to look ahead on where are we heading.
That’s why you also need to stay aware of things that are, say, moving fast in order for you to adapt also. I’m not using the word agile here, because I think that’s like a buzzword that I really do not understand the meaning of. But what I’m trying to say here is that everything moves. Everything changes constantly, so be sure that you are also capable of adapting your own thinking to the information that you get. And make sure that whenever you can find, say, ground basis information, get your head around that. Because that’s where you find, say, the real fundamental points that can help you also when forecasting the future ahead of you.

Peter SandHelena WoodWhich is useful. And I think, if I could speak from a Zencargo perspective, I would also encourage any shippers to, as you say, remain informed, seek trustworthy information, look for context, but also be unafraid to lean on expert partners. Whether it might be that you’re a shipper who’s working with a digital freight forwarder like us at Zencargo, maybe you’ve got a relationship with a business like Xeneta, no one’s alone in having to find out or master all the knowledge about exactly what’s going on right now. No one individual is going to be able to get out a crystal ball and predict exactly everything that’s going to happen. Actually, there is huge strength almost in the information or the intelligence network of relying on your peers. Using sources like be on LinkedIn. Look for the updates that are being shared by some of our peers there. Make sure you’re asking questions. Be unafraid sometimes to not know what’s happening. I think that’s all right. We all probably need to shed that fear around asking questions and seeking more insight.

I think you’re absolutely spot on in the way that you should remain humble to the market. You should also watch your peers in the market space. I mean, I’m constantly also trying to share my thoughts, bringing Xeneta into the position of a thought leadership in this industry. That’s why we constantly, well, join good podcasts like the Zencargo one, but also share our line of thoughts with those that really care on LinkedIn and social media, also to just show at least tip of the iceberg what is the direction. Then of course you can gain so much more underneath.
I think it’s also fair to say that this is not just an everyday job. This is a way of living. That’s why you, I guess… At some point in time you also need to find out who’s the trustworthy guys in the bunch, guys or girls in the bunch, that you can rely on when talking about the market? I think that’s that’s of essence, especially when trying to do the forecasting things. Those that you rely on, those that you trust on, follow them. Because then you will also know when they are more right, more wrong, or at least, say, how they constantly see the markets and you can easier predict yourself if you need to.

Peter SandHelena WoodHopefully they have the humility to put their hand up when they might be wrong as well. Because we’re all wrong sometimes.

Absolutely. I think it’s fair to say, if you’re right more than half of the times, then you’re doing a fairly good job. The higher and the better of course is always what we aim for.

Peter SandHelena WoodOf course. Now, we couldn’t have a conversation with you, Peter, without thinking about what’s happening in the market today, right now. The direction of rates. Here’s your moment. I’d love to hear from you and I know our listeners would love to hear your guidance on what’s happening right now and what you think the trajectory’s going to be over the next couple of months as we prepare for busy season.

It’s a spectacular market right now, but also a market that is trending downwards for sure. In many main traits we have seen the spot market sliding for quite a few months now. At the same time, we have seen a strengthening market for the long term contracts. Some may obviously question, how can that be? But of course you need to go back two, three, four back, to realise that, okay, they were actually quite close to one another. Then we saw a couple of years with a massive spread, a massive gap between the two, with spot market rates going very high, and now contracts are catching up and it’s of course a preferred way. Also making sure that you can get your essential cargo moving from a shipper’s perspective, and also from a carrier’s perspective. They of course also would like to lock in key customers with high volumes on essential trade lanes for a long time going ahead of us.
That’s why right now is… It’s very interesting to follow on the Xeneta platform, that some of the spot market rates are now falling below that of long term contract rates. We see that on trans-Pacific. We have seen that for a few month now on the far east to South America east coast actually. And speaking of that trade, we have seen a change of direction in the spot market, literally due to at least supply chains facing troubles. Once again. We have seen reliability coming down on that trade and we have seen spot rates going back up above those of long term contract rates. But I think in rough general and global terms, we are facing now a downwards trajectory where spot rates will tend to, at some point in time, do as they have gone right now or earlier in June, where spot markets have fall below long term contract rates on the essential trans-Pacific trade lane from the far east Asia into U.S. east coast and west coast.
We will see that where in the past couple of years we have seen long term rates catching up, now they will catch down, if I may use that image for explaining what we are likely to see for the coming year, the coming year and a half. Where spot rates in general terms, with some volatility on the way, will be on the decline, with the long term contract rates then also gradually declining. Let me just bring you a brief up to date on what has happened in early July. We have definitely seen that far east into north Europe where the long term contract rates have declined by approximately $1,000 per FEU. At the same time, we have seen spot rates being all flat.
There’s tons of things that goes into this. Mostly, of course, also very much the lack of equipment right now in north Europe and the massive congestion that has been building up around Hamburg, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven. But if we may also look at another trade lane very much in the spotlight over the past couple of months, far east into the U.S. east coast, we have now also seen that spot rates fell by $800 in the early days of July, and the long term contracts have declined also by approximately $300.
There is a trending down on a global scale, but still very much up in the air. You mention yourself, Helena, that the third quarter is where most volumes are shipped on a global scale. That’s a seasonality thing that is always around depending on the general shape of the market. That’s definitely, say, underpinning the market somewhat for carriers, whereas global shippers of course would like to see much faster and much, say, sharp drops in the spot market. But they’re not getting that until we really get a solution to the congestion that we see left, right and centre right now. Once that’s dealt with, container ships need to go back to where they once were two years ago before we can get back to anything that looks like a normalised market with also a very, very different freight rate environment than where we are now. But patience more than anything is required also.

Peter SandHelena WoodPatience is key. I’m tempted, Peter, to almost say, what is normal in these terms? We’ve dealt with the abnormal for so long now. It’s hard to almost justify one against the other.

It’s super tricky to stay on top of everything. And going back to your previous question, that’s why you perhaps need to find out, okay, who do I trust the most in the market as a thought leader? Who delivered the data that I trust the most in the market? Because especially at a turning point in time right now, that is essential for your business. The more insights you can get, the better. And if I may just add, on top of the freight rates that you follow in the market, there’s also a constant discussion, of course, on the added surcharges that global shippers are also asked to pay. Mostly, of course, the bank adjustment factors that they pay on top of the long term contracts.
But in the spot market also, what we call at Xeneta the priority shipment fees. Some of our competitors in the market for freight rates put a different term to that, even include that into the spot market rates, making, say, the difference between what we quote as a spot market to what they quote as spot market quite miles aside. But what we aim to do with bringing that, say, added information is to say that, okay, this is a very special market. This is a priority shipment fee that you would not find in any other market than the crazy one that we have right now. If we included that into the way that we aggregate our benchmarks, you would basically fail to understand, say, the real happening in the market with that extra surcharge on top, which not everyone is paying for. But those that are in an absolute urgency, or those that are, say, struggling keeping up with the demand or their supply chains, will pay for that.
Intelligence is super business critical when going into the contracts also. That is of course essential for global shippers and global carriers. Constantly, when they look at the market, when they try to get to grip with the next long term contract, depending on how that long term contract may be, one quarter, one year, two year perhaps with some kind of, say, floating adjustment; there’s tons of things to consider. But I think the one thing that most shippers seek right now is to make sure that they have a renegotiation opportunity added into that contract for any, say, adjustments needed when markets change dramatically.

Peter Sand Helena WoodCompletely essential information, and I think it’s so interesting the way, Peter, you talk about this, the tracking trends between the spot market and the long term rates, because of course we’ve become so used to something very different. And I can completely understand, if I take all the data out of it and almost think about things from a purely emotional perspective, gosh, it would be nice to have a long term rate and to have the comfort of knowing what’s coming. We’ve all dealt with so much chaos. But I can imagine for many shippers there’s anxiety about where to commit and how to play the market right now. I think from a Zencargo perspective, we are working very closely to partner with our customers and helping them balance their… sort of spread their bets, because there are concerns for many shippers about how consumer behaviour is going to change over the coming months.

We’re hearing whispers that are almost shouts now about an impending recession. What does that mean for their stockout? What does that mean for the demand? And the speed and pace at which the market is able to bounce back, of course, is just so sluggish because of everything that you mentioned in terms of the congestion, the shortages of supply. So it’s really interesting to think about the way these two things are interplaying, and I’d love to hear your perspective, Peter. To a shipper sitting today thinking, “Where do I make my bet? Do I play the spot market? Do I look for something long term? Do I do a bit of both?” What would you recommend?
The more you know your own business, the better. Because then you can really get into what is essential for you. From a perspective of, say, making sure that you are not, say, a cowboy in the market, you are not seeking 100% only to save money… Because if that’s what you’re aiming for, then I guess you’re riding the wild spot market constantly. Fingers crossed that it will drop like a rock anytime soon. But that’s definitely not the advice that we are giving out. In fact, we do not give advice. We tend to talk around, say, dominant strategies, or at least, say, the opportunities that you should consider as a global shipper.
The way I talk around it right now is that the goods that you need, the goods that are essential for your business success, those you would probably like to bring into, say, more stable flow, more resilient flow, and you will often get that with a long term contract that gives you a guaranteed shipment and a guaranteed equipment on top of that.
You may do that for, say, half of your 250 plus number of trade lanes on a global scale, and then you might see, okay, these other 150, 120 port pairs, shipping, say, goods that are nice to have but not need to have, then you can perhaps balance out that, going into the spot market for trades like that. And of course making sure that the risk is balanced also in the long term contract market. You can also spread out the tenure for the lon term contracts, going with one quarter for some traits, one year for other traits.
You can definitely also go for long term contract with different carriers. Again, of course, this is mostly for bigger shippers. Smaller shippers may find themselves at the mercy of the spot market only. But if you have the opportunity to deal directly as a big shipper with your carrier or your freight forwards, you should definitely also know where you are the strongest opponent in the negotiations. Where do you position yourself also as a must have customer for the carriers or the freight forwarders? Because that is of course also where you can make ends meet. Where you do not only get resilient supply chains, but perhaps also that, say, really, really sharp freight rate that I guess your CFO would also love you to tick the box on that one and not only your, say, chief procurement officer seeking 100% reliability or as good as it gets.
So it’s complex. There’s a lot of things to consider. But the one thing that is left, I think, know your own business. Bring your essential goods to your customers when they need it, and I think that brings you a good long way.

Peter SandHelena WoodSuper. Thank you for that, Peter. Now I’m going to change tactics a little bit, and I think it’s so valuable for our listeners to have some insight into what’s going on in the market and to think about how Xeneta might approach it. I know you guys don’t officially do advice, but I think you’ve given us some very good high level guidance and things to think about.I want to turn onto a different topic, which is something that’s close to our hearts at Zencargo and it’s a way of celebrating this industry and thinking about all the different things that could happen in this spectacular market as you call it. And it’s our ship happens moment. We talk about it a lot at Zencargo. Things can go wrong in the supply chain space, and it’s often our triumph when we manage to overcome challenges on a day to day basis. Those are the wins that we really take home, and sometimes they’re just the stories that we like to tell our friends over the dinner table, because they’re quite entertaining. What are your ship happens moments, or do you have any you’d like to share, Peter?

I really like that ship happens moments, and allow me to share two moments. One that is, well, embracing a former colleague of mine that a few years back brought me onto another container ship. But a bulk carrier taking me from the port of Hamburg to Svalbard, very close to the North Pole. And the reason for me to bring this story to your attention is the fact that, I mean, you cannot learn everything by being in your desk all the time. You need to go out there and experience real life, real operations, being in a terminal. I’m not saying that I am a fully able seafarer by any means, but spending a week on board that ship, sailing up the north Atlantic to that very remote island for picking up a cold cargo, that was a really cool experience. Also being with a very warm and friendly crew on board that ship. So definitely kudos out to Christian. You know who you are. Thanks for that one.

Peter Sand Helena WoodSounds like an incredible experience.

Yeah, it was an incredible experience and I would definitely love to go back to that, say, very in northern island in the north Atlantic sea. Because I arrived around 10 November and those of you who have been that far north will know that, well, the sun never rises at that point in time. It was quite dark when being up there, but a super experience. And, well, be careful. You should not wander around just to check out the site without having a rifle with you, because there are polar bears and it’s their natural habitat, not yours.

Peter SandHelena WoodI was going to ask if you saw any polar bears, but perhaps if it was so dark, you maybe missed them.

Yeah, I guess. I guess that was it. I did not see any polar bears, but for once I was pretty pleased that was not the case.

Peter SandHelena WoodA relief. And tell us your second ship happens moment, Peter.

Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been fortunate to go to Singapore, a massively important capital for international shipping, quite often in the previous years. And going to one of the events out in Singapore, that used to clash with my father-in-law’s birthday. So I have for several years been the late arrival to his celebrations, and one of those, say, trips back from Singapore to Copenhagen, where I touched down, was flying home over India in the middle of the night. And everything was nicely planned for. I could touch down and get myself to at least most of the celebrations in Copenhagen. But in the dead of night we were all called up on the plane. A person on board was caught terribly ill, so we had to touch down in Delhi, India. Well, you can plan for a lot and then ship happens, right?
Fortunately it all turned out very well for the person that was ill. It did not become, say, terminal illness by any means, but we had to stop over. And I guess it also illustrates very well the global supply chains right now that you find yourself constantly trying to update your plans. You make new contingency plans and then, well, ship happens and then you end up in India with a delay of some six hours. But in the end, no hard feelings. I arrived at the celebrations and it was just like, okay. That’s just shipping in a nutshell. It may not all go according to plans, but in the end it will all be fine.

Peter SandHelena WoodVery good. And hopefully your father-in-law wasn’t too upset about you missing the first part of the party.

We’re still friends.

Peter SandHelena WoodGood. Let’s hope so. Now, you shouted out your colleague who facilitated that trip up to Svalbard. An amazing opportunity. But something that we always like to ask our guests on this podcast is around anyone that you’ve worked with or had the opportunity to work with that you would like to thank for their contribution to your career. Supply chain is a vast industry of many equipment and machines and containers and massive vessels, but actually it’s the humans at the heart of this industry that really make it move. We’d love to hear if anyone’s had a human impact on your career.

I would love to make a shout out to one only, but I’m afraid I can’t do that, because I think I’ve found inspiration from quite a selection of people. Those people that in the early parts of my career also made me think of ways to improve the way I did things at some point in time. Always, of course, think, say, with a broader scope ahead of you. Do not only focus on, say, one trade lane, believing that there is no other world than what goes on at that trade lane. Always think of the knock-on effect on other trade lanes. I think that was at least a leap forward for me.
It wasn’t necessarily the proudest moment in my career when stumbling on the words to explain what was, say, the ripple effect of this when I did not know actually. But I think that’s fortunately a long time ago. But since then I found out that do not try to follow in anyone’s footsteps. That will never make you leader of the pack. What I try constantly is, of course, to make myself inspired by, I would say, industry colleagues. Those that also seek excellence in the business that I do. But not following them on social media or anything like that, because that would again make me just stumble in their footsteps. From time to time catching up, talking about the same market, agreeing when to agree and agreeing when to disagree. Because there’s always different sides to different stories.
I think that’s also pretty testament to what we see right now, where I found myself not being a part of, you can say, the consensus opinion in the market in terms of what would happen to container shipping freight rates and volumes once Shanghai reopened. I was cautious, saying that I do not expect a flood of goods to jump into the market. I would not expect freight rates to go up due to the fact that what I saw and what I believed in, using my essential information, did not give me any reason to believe that was going to happen. I mean, it’s still too early to call, but I think it’s fair to say that we have not seen anything that counters that view. On the contrary, we have seen still a gradual slide. We have seen volumes also decrease out of far east Asia and China.
I think that’s a little bit of, you can say, the trust in yourself that you also need to have when trying to be a thought leader out there. Believe in your own assessment of it. You may be right, you may be wrong, but at least you know why in the end if you were right or wrong. So, a huge shout out to all of those industry experts that are on the scene next to me, giving their opinions and views on the market. Because I always enjoy myself a good conversation and a good, say, dialogue with those people so I can also learn more and hopefully they can also learn something from that takeaway.

Peter SandHelena WoodWell, I’m sure they will know who they are, and may you continue to agree and disagree with passion over the coming changes in the market. We’ve got time for one final element of our podcast, Peter, which is our quickfire question round, something all of our guests enjoy, I think.


Peter SandHelena WoodSomething we certainly enjoy with all of our guests. I’ve got some quickfire questions. They’re one or two word answers and we would love to hear your opinion. I hope you are ready. Question number one, Peter. If you had the opportunity to work in any supply chain job just for the day, what would you do?

I would be a crane operator at a terminal.

Peter SandHelena WoodOoh, very interesting. You’re the second person to say that. Can you give us three words to sum up your predictions for the rate market over this next six months?

Patience, decline, and volatility.

Peter SandHelena WoodVery good. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working in supply chain?

Don’t be afraid.

Peter SandHelena WoodWhich trade route would you like to travel on if you had the chance?

From South America to Europe on a banana boat.

Peter SandHelena WoodThat would be quite something, wouldn’t it? Well, thank you very much, Peter. And thank you for all of your fantastic insight on today’s episode.

My pleasure, Helena. Thanks for having me.

Peter SandHelena WoodThank you. And thank you also to our listeners for tuning in and for listening to Peter’s fantastic insight. That was Peter Sand from Xeneta. And if you’ve got any feedback or questions for either myself or Peter from today’s episode, please reach out to us on LinkedIn. We’d be thrilled to reply. We love to hear from you, so do get in touch. Please also don’t forget to like, subscribe and share today’s podcast. It helps bring more people to this information who might find it useful. Until next time, thank you today and goodbye.