Shipping containers are as scarce as they have even been in the history of containerized freight. While container shortages may seem like a minor issue, they are having a major impact on the global economy. Disruptions at the world’s busiest ports lead to billions of dollars in lost trade and economic activity, so when container shortages happen, it’s important to understand why they have occurred and how to mitigate the impact on you and your freight.
Container shortages happen when there is not enough container capacity where they are needed, to meet the global shipping demand. This can be caused by several factors. Regarding the current situation, global product demand surged as most of the world emerged from Covid-19 related restrictions. Ports that had been shut down suddenly had an unprecedented number of ships needing to be offloaded and loaded. In fact, 48% of all shipping containers for the entire globe are stuck within the international boundaries of China. This includes more than 500 ships off the coast needing to be loaded and/or offloaded, large container yards close to the ports with thousands of containers waiting for products to be shipped and factories in China impacted by closures.
When you top that off with the reality that there are simply not enough shipping containers in the U.S. to meet the needs of shippers in America, a serious supply/demand problem has been created. It currently takes six weeks or more to acquire one container for one load in the United States.
If you can preplan two or more months in advance for each load, do not have Mission Critical freight, and work with a great Third-Party Logistics Provider who has their fingers on the pulse of container availability, you might be able to put together a shipping plan. One thing to keep in mind, if the container is delayed while waiting for its designated ship, storage fees can add up quickly.
However, if you do not have two or more months, look at hybrid solutions like using a mix of airfreight (for the most time critical shipping volume) and containerized ocean freight (for the less time critical volume). One unseen benefit of airfreight is the elimination of the storage fees levied when containers get stuck at a port.
PPLUS Global has been providing “best in class” custom solutions for its customers over the past 30 years. We use industry-leading technology, supported by dedicated teams to coordinate all aspects of your freight no matter the destination. Contact us for up to the minute information on container availability, as well as all of the options available to accomplish your freight needs.