Container shortage starts to bite, adding to pressure on costs

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 15th January 2024

The predicted container shortages are beginning to bite amid the chaos thrown up in the Red Sea and a flurry of re-routings, delays and cancellations.

And the shortages could catch the industry out, says a reliable source, despite predictions in past weeks.

Most people read about it, perhaps even think ‘Okay, it sounds like a problem, but probably not as big a deal as the carriers make it sound’.

However, the reliable source warned that despite that being a “small” player specialising in the Asia-Europe and Asia-Gulf trades, they are now seeing problems.

It is getting increasingly difficult to get 40ft high-cube boxes, and also 20ft general-purpose boxes, across the main ports in China. They are empty-repositioning as fast as they can and they have also taken on the very last batches of new-lease containers but from 15th January onward, there are no more. The ‘out of stock’ signs are on the doors of leasing companies.

The outbound leg from Asia to Europe is just the beginning of what could be more turbulent times ahead in 2024.

The crises like that in the Red Sea compound structural inefficiencies surrounding the repositioning of empties.

Another reliable source added that he was beginning to see issues with export boxes at North China feeder ports – “nothing major” yet, but it was indicative of a pending equipment shortage.

It is warned that “someone has to pay” for the higher costs, “from China especially” that will begin to “land on everybody’s doorstep”.

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