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Port of Los Angeles hit by container shortage weeks after acute surplus

Alexander Kliem - Pixabay View of a containership at sea
A rush to get containers back to Asia to reduce shortages at key export ports has now left the Port of Los Angeles with its own shortage, according to Container xChange.

Adding to the Port of Los Angeles’ woes of congestion, Covid outbreaks and labour issues, the US gateway port has seen acute excess of boxes change to a shortage in a period of just seven weeks.

“While earlier in the year the high-volume US box import port was overwhelmed with boxes, now there is a dearth,” said Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier, ceo of Container xChange.

The Port of Los Angeles had an average surplus of 0.64 according Container xChange’s Container Availability Index, any value of over 0.5 being a surplus.

The surplus was particularly acute in weeks 37 – 45 last year when the US west coast was awash with empty containers. In week 42 the index peaked at 0.86 for twenty-foot dry containers, and 0.91 for forty-foot boxes.

However, as lines aggressively repositioned equipment to Asia, including extra loaders purely for empty boxes, by week 49 container availability in the Port of LA had plunged to 0.27 for twenty-foot boxes, and 0.29 for forty-foot containers.

“We’re expecting further volatility in container availability in the coming weeks with every element of the transpacific ocean freight supply chain under unprecedented pressure,” said Florian Frese, marketing lead at Container xChange.