Shippers Compete for Space as Container Freight Rates Continue Rise

Aerial view of a busy cargo port showing a large freight ship being loaded or unloaded with colorful shipping containers, with cranes and infrastructure visible.

Just this week, shippers from Asia to Europe saw a further spike in container spot rates, especially for Mediterranean ports. In addition, carriers are said to be preparing big increases in short-term rates as cargo-rolling to become normalized.

On the transpacific route, carriers are booked solid well into June, with this week’s spot rate increases from Asia to the US described as “academic.”

“Space in May is already full, with demand remaining healthy through to the beginning of the third quarter,” said Jon Monroe, of Washington state-based Jon Monroe Consulting.

The North Europe component of the Freightos Baltic Index (FBX) increased by 5% this week, to $8,127 per 40ft. This represents a remarkable 475% increase on the same week of last year.

For the Mediterranean, the FBX spot jumped 10%, to $8,868 per 40ft. Short-term rates have spiked by 345% compared to last year’s numbers.

For the transpacific tradelane, this week’s FBX recorded a 3.5% increase for Asia to the US west coast, to $5,015 per 40ft, and a 5.5% uplift to spot rates for the east coast, to $6,584 per 40ft.

Looking forward, there is no let-up in sight in the demand for imports from Asia.

The US National Retail Federation is predicting that low inventory levels will continue well into the peak season.

With the spot market only representing average rates in the marketplace, shippers are becoming frustrated that they cannot book space at index rates.

“Shippers paying such rate levels have no guarantee to get empty equipment released or their booking guaranteed,” said Alphaliner.

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