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US container prices tumble as yards overflow with empties

Port of Long Beach Long Beach
Container prices in the US have fallen dramatically in recent months and will fall further, according to Container xChange.

The company’s analysis showed that in LA, 40ft HC containers had fallen from $3467 in late February 2022 to $2754 in April 2022, while 20ft DC containers were at an average price of $1661 in April 2022, down from highs of $3080 late in August 2021.

“In general, logjams and disruptions lead to increase in container prices, especially in second-hand container prices because more container volume is tied up along the logistic supply chain. However, in the United States, there is a pile-up of empties as those containers cannot be repatriated back to Asia because of several disruptions one after the other in the past two years, and more recently due to the China lockdowns and Russia Ukraine crisis,” said Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO, Container xChange.

Roeloffs expects prices to continue to fall as depots overflow and container owners become desperate to offload units.

“Once we see depots overflowing, container turnaround times becoming faster and shorter again, and container fleet utilization increasing again, we do believe that container availability on a global scale will become more abundant again.”

Lockdowns in China may have eased the backlog of vessels and cargoes in the US, but some disruption is expected as lockdowns ease.

“There will be a lot of disruptions when the lockdowns are lifted, and vessels will storm the east as well as the west coast ports. There will be an added element of panic shipping. This will further increase supply chain pressures and logjams in the US,” said Roeloffs.

Container xChange warned of further potential disruption should negotiations with US port labour unions run beyond the start of July when current contracts end.

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