Most people never think about the shipping industry.
That’s how the people who make their living in the transportation business, like Victor Restis, like it.
It’s a 90-billion dollar industry that sends over 20 million containers around the world every year. No one could go without those products, but very few people know how they get from factory to store.
So why should you care about shipping? Shipping touches every single one of us at least once a day, if not more. Do you drink coffee? That came on a ship. Do you wear clothes? A lot of them were shipped to the store. Do you drive a car? The parts for it probably came from overseas – and yes, that includes the fuel you put in your gas tank.
How Shipping Drives the Economy
We all know that 80% of the world’s trade is carried by ships. It involves nearly 100 businesses and 200 countries worldwide, but it only has a handful of owners. That means shippers have to move most of the world’s stuff across oceans and continents every day.
And when you think about it, does it make any sense at all? Many people who live in the northern part of this planet will never see anything shipped from another hemisphere. Yet, all those products are vital to our everyday lives.
It’s very difficult to understand how important shipping is until something goes wrong. During the financial crisis, shipping was one of the few industries that didn’t suffer. It’s because every time something goes wrong, someone feels it.
Why Shipping Matters to Your Everyday Life
So, when was the last time you felt shipping’s importance? Most of us feel shipping once in a while. Have you ever gotten sick during your vacation and had to buy medicine at the pharmacy?
That medicine came from China or India, which means it traveled 12000+ miles across oceans and continents. It took anywhere between 2-8 weeks to get here, but we assume that our store shelves are always fully stocked. That’s kind of funny since we as consumers take for granted how easy it is to find whatever we need whenever we want.
What if one day everything changed? What if you ran out of coffee and there weren’t any more shipments arriving at the port? How long before something else went wrong? Let’s fast forward to tomorrow. What if the world’s biggest shipping company, Maersk, decided to stop all its shipments?
The answer is simply: we’d run out of stuff very quickly. If this giant stops delivering goods worldwide, no one else will be able to take over until they recover. The only thing worse than not having your coffee is not buying groceries because there aren’t any leftovers.
You see how much shipping matters when you look at the numbers – 20 million containers each year that equals about 1 million per day or 40 Million TEUs (20-feet equivalent units). Just picture what would happen when 50 ships are diverted from delivering products to our stores instead of on the water. That’s like suddenly losing 50 roads leading to your city, and you can’t drive there anymore.
It may sound scary, but it’s also how our country was built. Before ships began traveling overseas, Europe thrived because it could only trade with other countries close enough to reach by boat. Now imagine if all those products stopped coming in?