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Market Situation - Container flows - update IV

Jan 2021
3 minutes
Update 4 – following earlier blogposts

In order to keep some overview, we tried to break it down into several segments covering different areas worldwide. Although not all trades are in the report, similar tendencies apply.



The final Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) for 2020, published on the 31st of December, recorded a staggering 190% gain on the year on global trade lane averages. The spot rate increase from Asia to North Europe leaped by almost 300% year on year!!


The Loadstar, a transportation and logistics’ articles publisher, were told by shippers that they are paying USD 16,000.00 / 40’ to guarantee shipment in the second half of January. Referring to the earlier customer letter, this is causing several shippers to postpone their scheduled shipments until after Chinese New Year, only fueling rumors that the pricing ex Asia will uphold well beyond Chinese New Year.

On the Trans-Pacific trade, the rates have flattened out somewhat as it seems the maximum level has been reached.

To Latin America East Coast the market has seen the biggest change in rates of all major trades. Last year, the spot rate in the summer was a meager USD 400 / container. This week the spot rates between Shanghai and Santos went up to well above USD 8500 / TEU!



The US trucking industry has been extremely stretched due to the impact of COVID-19 on manpower and the lack of chassis. The situation is only becoming more problematic. In addition to the driver and equipment shortages, huge growth in volumes globally as well as terminal congestion at the ports are impacting haulage operations and timely deliveries.

Long hauls are particularly difficult to secure. To meet preferred (un)loading dates, the trucking companies are asking for a window of 4 weeks and more. Short(er) hauls are easier to fix. The time window for these transport moves is between 1 and 2 weeks.


Prior to Chinese New Year traditionally volume moves from Asia to the world peak. This is also the case for Europe. This is putting massive pressure on the terminal operations. Even the big terminals are getting massively congested. As a result, MSC has discharged a vessel with cargo from the Far East destined for Belgium in Zeebrugge instead of in Antwerp on their own MPET terminal.

The UK entered a full lockdown for at least seven weeks from January 5th as the new variant of the virus is causing more contaminations although they are vaccinating people on a huge scale. We will only be able to determine the impact of the lockdown in the next weeks both on contaminations and on the cargo volumes.

In the UK ports, the shipping lines were already facing heavy congestion and with no improvements expected in the near future, 2M and THE Alliance have announced to call Felixtowe no longer but to discharge their UK imports at alternative European ports instead.



The current high pricing on a global scale seems unlikely to stop in the next weeks. Chinese New Year is now seen as the turning point however it is expected that even in the period following Chinese New Year the rates will not go down significantly due to the ongoing equipment shortage in almost all exporting areas.

It is difficult to predict when the market will come back to acceptable levels

We will keep close track of further developments. 

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