Container freight rates soar on consumer goods boom

Global container shipping rates have surged to records on a spike in restocking demand in the United States and Europe, container scarcity at export hubs, and changes in freight flows because of the coronavirus pandemic

Cargo cranes are seen at a container yard in Keelung, Taiwan

Singapore - Global container shipping rates have surged to records on a spike in restocking demand in the United States and Europe, container scarcity at export hubs, and changes in freight flows because of the coronavirus pandemic, shipping sources said.
 
The Freightos Baltic Global Container Index (FBX), a weighted average of 12 major global container routes, rose to $2,359 per forty-foot equivalent (FEU) container this week, the highest on record and up 30% since July 1. FREIGHTOS-GBL-FBX
 
“The spike is driven by very high demand for container freight since July, driven by post-lockdown restocking, limited air-freight capacity, incremental demand for stay-home goods and PPE (personal protective equipment), and a severe shortage of containers,” said Hua Joo Tan, container shipping market analyst at Liner Research Services.
 
The cost to ship a container from China to the U.S. East Coast, a key global retail market, topped $4,750 this week, up 42% since July and a new record, according to Freightos data in Refinitiv Eikon.
 
“The transpacific route from Asia to the U.S. has seen the strongest demand surge, with volumes growing by between 10% to 20% more than last year, but we are seeing the high demand spill over into all trade-lanes currently,” said Tan, adding that demand is projected to stay firm until the first quarter of 2021.
 
The Harpex Shipping Index, which tracks container ship charter rates, has more than doubled since July to 947 points currently, its highest since September 2008. 
 
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