Supply Chain Strain: Escalating Costs Amid Container Shortages


  • Anticipated container shortages are becoming a reality, leading to disruptions in the global shipping industry.
  • Mark Rhodes from Crane Worldwide emphasizes similar concerns, stating that the outbound leg from Asia to Europe is just the beginning of potential turbulence in 2024.
  • Hans-Henrik Nielsen warns that the higher costs resulting from these challenges, especially from China, will impact everyone in the industry.

Unfolding Container Crisis

The anticipated shortage of containers is starting to have an impact, exacerbated by disruptions in the Red Sea, leading to a series of reroutes, delays, and cancellations.

And the shortages could catch the industry out, says global development director at CargoGulf Hans-Henrik Nielsen, despite predictions in past weeks.

Mr. Nielsen told The Loadstar: “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’.”

Supply Strain Hits CargoGulf

However, Mr. Nielsen warned that, despite being a “small” player, specializing in the Asia-Europe and Asia-Gulf trades, CargoGulf was now seeing the problems.

“It is getting increasingly difficult to get 40ft high-cube boxes, and also 20ft general-purpose boxes, across the main ports in China,” he said. “We are empty-repositioning as fast as we can, and we have also taken on the very last batches of new-lease containers, but from today, there are no more … there are ‘out of stock’ signs on the doors of leasing companies.”

Crane Worldwide’s Mark Rhodes, regional ocean product director of Asia Pacific highlighted similar concerns. he said: “The outbound leg from Asia to Europe is just the beginning of what could be more turbulent times ahead in 2024.”

Industry-Wide Concerns Escalate

Other forwarders are seeing similar issues, one telling The Loadstar crises like that in the Red Sea compound structural inefficiencies surrounding the repositioning of empties.

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

And Mr. Nielsen 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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Source: The Loadstar