Annual Conference of the MII Europe Road & Rail
On March 4, 2020 the Community of the Market Intelligence Initiative Europe Road & Rail met for its Annual Conference. Unusual times call for unusual measures. Originally, the MII team planned two days of conference in Brussels. Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the event was shortened to one day and moved to the web.
Thus the members of the MII Europe Road & Rail Community could be informed about the results of the last benchmarking round as usual and at the usual time and received up-to-date input on market trends, rate developments and cost factors.
In the following, Christian Dolderer, Manager of MII Europe Road & Rail, gives us an insight into the work of his Initiative.
Christian Dolderer, you are responsible for the MII Europe Road & Rail. Can you describe the work of your Initiative to us in a few sentences?
MII Europe Road & Rail has been providing valid benchmarking on freight rates and service levels for European land transport since 1999. With more than 89,000 transport routes and almost 8,000 different transport micro-markets, we achieve a detailed coverage that reflects the regional situation of capacity and demand.
Our members are logistics and supply chain decision-makers from the automotive, consumer goods, paper, construction materials, chemicals and steel industries. We have developed our own methodology for analyzing their freight data, which ensures a high level of comparability and reliability. Our members use the results not only for tactical freight purchasing, but especially to intelligently refine or change strategies and processes if necessary.
What is your answer to a shipper who asks about the benefits of joining your Initiative?
European and international shippers still spend most of their freight budgets on land transport. The freight market is characterized by intransparency, unknown sub-markets and complicated tendering processes. Making the right strategic decisions here is a major challenge.
We are always close to the market for our members, observing not only freight rate and capacity developments, but also external factors, market changes and new trends. We provide our members with the results in form of regular market radars, individual analyses and personal consulting. An important instrument of our MII work are our regular conferences. At the Update Conferences, we provide an up-to-date market overview and prepare for the next benchmarking round. At the Annual Conferences, we present the results of our analyses, offer presentations by renowned experts and, above all, an intensive exchange of ideas with all participants. Our members are thus always a good step ahead of market developments and know whether they are competitive in terms of freight rates and service.
In our March newsletter we reported on the unusual format of the Annual Conference in March. What was your impression?
In February, our management decided to cancel the two-day conference in Brussels due to the health risks for participants and team. Together with my team, I quickly set up an online version of the event. This enabled us to present the results of the benchmarking round, which are extremely important for our members’ work, and to answer their questions. As every year, we also presented current market developments and forecasts. This went surprisingly well, especially considering the short preparation time. Nevertheless, all participants agreed that the interactive exchange and intensive networking among themselves and, of course, the contributions of external experts were missing. These are also important components of our Annual Conferences.
You mentioned current market developments and forecasts. Could you give us a brief overview, please?
Our analyses mainly focus on four factors: cost drivers, demand, capacities and legal framework conditions.
A key cost driver is the diesel price. It was very stable in Europe last year, with an average increase of 2% compared to 2018. Freight rates rose by an average of 3.2% in the same period. This was due less to the diesel price than to higher wage costs and tolls.
In our opinion, external factors such as trade conflicts, Brexit and geopolitical crises would only have caused a minimal increase in transport demand until 2021. Due to the Coronavirus crisis, annualized demand is now expected to be significantly lower at the end of 2020. We are not yet in a position to really assess a possible catch-up effect on the demand side. As a logical consequence, reduced demand will lead to higher capacities on the market.
The planned CO2 tax is certainly one of the external factors that will have a direct impact on the operating costs of transport service providers. Planned investments in the transport infrastructure in Germany and the first EU mobility package adopted in mid-January will also change the European road transport sector.
We will intensively monitor these developments for our Community members and analyze the possible consequences and changes caused by the Coronavirus. This is what our MII work is all about.
Conferences are a sensitive issue given the risks of Coronavirus. Do you have already planned the annual Update Conference?
We usually hold our Update Conference in September. At the moment, we do not know if we will be able to realize it as usual, of course. In any case we will offer an appropriate solution. In addition to Community members, we also invite other interested shippers to the Update Conferences. We will inform about the event in due time via our marketing channels.