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The current state of the logistics market is inarguably chaotic – a perfect storm of port congestion, low schedule reliability and container shortages leading to phenomenal FAK rates and incessant surcharges that have rippled through the value chain.  

All this on top of looming strikes in France, Canada and now the US east coast, plus the ever-present threat of overcapacity nagging in the back of everyone’s mind. 

So the mood of attendees at Multimodal UK in Birmingham is one of slight confusion and panic, but some of that may be due to it being the first day of the annual event and the maze-like layout of more than 300 exhibitors spread across a 16,700 sq metre hall. 

Around 12,000 have come this morning for the much-anticipated occasion, and there’s a low a buzz of negotiation, information exchange and laughter echoing throughout that gives a sense of buoyancy.  

“It’s rammed,” one exhibitor laughed. 

In true British fashion, the promise of ‘happy hour’ at every other stand after 3pm could be something to do with the air of optimism, but from just brief conversations with a few stakeholders, there seems to be a genuine sense of excitement in the opportunity to network.  

Indeed, one forwarder told The Loadstar: “With the state of the market right now, you have to be very agile to operate at a good level, and events like this help you make the connections to do that.” 

And one large carrier told The Loadstar it had more than 80 meetings scheduled for just day one.  

Meanwhile, the companies exhibiting seem to be engaged in an unspoken, but very serious, competition for who can hand out the most enticing bribe on their stand – entries ranging from coffee, chocolate and cuddly toys, to a cruise. And, of course, beer. 

Information-dense panel presentations take place in makeshift theatres across all four corners of the hall, alternating every 45 minutes or so, and have been all but fully attended since they started, at 10am.  

So, while Multimodal is an information- and meeting-dense three-day event that spans every link in the supply chain, it also promises to provide a very amusing party atmosphere that allows companies and their people, big and small, involved in ocean, air or land, to network, connect and laugh with one another throughout its duration.  

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