Analyzing the cost of container scarcity and port congestion on freight operations – market survey & results

The weight of COVID-19 saw supply chains buckle, as stakeholders had little visibility into end-to-end logistics operations.

Last summer, an unexpected surge in consumption levels caught container lines by surprise, as the situation quickly cascaded to low container availability due to fewer vessels out at sea.

The disproportionate increase in freight volume compared to capacity availability inevitably sent freight prices skyrocketing across all major trade lanes, causing widespread anxiety amongst shippers.

While container availability was an issue, major ports began contending with another headache—vessel congestion.

Although throughput volumes across ports have not particularly spiked year-on-year, pandemic-induced regulations meant fewer people and terminals were operational during the peak season, leading to logistics hiccups that snowballed into full-fledged port congestion.


p44 container scarcity and congestion survey - shipping and freight resource

The congestion also has to do with a trend reversal in economic trade activity.

Although US import volumes were expected to fall post the holiday season, they never did.

With their inventories drawn down during the consumption frenzy, shippers continued to move freight over the China-US West Coast trade lane, ensuring tight capacity and continued vessel pileup at the ports.

Adding to the woes was the Suez Canal incident, a maritime black swan event that has led to severe complexities.

Delays and possible port congestion are feared across major ports in the US East Coast, as vessels that queued up in the Red Sea slowly make their way to their respective ports.

For shippers, vessels idling at sea would mean extended lead times on freight delivery, fomenting chaos downstream.

Market analysts at project44 have created a survey to dig deeper into issues stemming from port congestion and the capacity strain to identify strategies that businesses are taking to navigate this tricky environment.

A report will be developed based on the survey responses and will be sent out to the respondents’ email addresses upon release. It is intended to help you improve your operation and learn how to gain better visibility into your supply chain.

p44 container scarcity and congestion survey - shipping and freight resource

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