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Empty containers pile up at the wrong end of the supply chain

Photo: Marcus Hand evergreencontainers.jpg
Empty containers are piling up at a rapid rate in US West Coast ports as congestion reaches an all-time high.

According to Container xChange’s container availability index (CAx) there has been a 60% increase empty containers available at the Port of Los Angeles in August this year compared to August 2020.

The index for the Port of LA is at 0.88 and 0.90 for a 20-foot container and 40-foot container respectively, while a value of 0.5 is considered to be in balance. This is the highest level of the container availability index at the port in the last three years.

“Our CAx (container availability index) data reveals 60% increase in the inbound outbound ratio at the ports of US West Coast, surpassing the pre-covid levels, indicating that there is excessive stress on the ports, and therefore indicating further congestion is expected in the coming months as we approach the holiday season in the later part of the year,” commented Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier, Co-founder and CEO, Container xChange.  

With over 40 container ships queued up in San Pedro Bay to enter the ports of LA and Long Beach the imbalance of empty containers between where they are required in Asia and are currently available in the US West Coast is only set to get worse. Meanwhile for US importers it means yet more delays.

Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO, Container xChange, said: “It also indicates that in the coming months, which are the most crucial months for the industry, there will be higher demurrage and detention charges, higher spot rates and surcharges and intermodal delays before it finally settles.” 

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