A larger-than-expected rebound in container traffic has created a shortage of boxes and forced container prices to a 19-year high.
According to The Journal of Commerce, the current price for a 20-foot dry container has risen to $2,750, its highest level since 1991, from less than $2,000 at the end of 2009.
Container manufacturers slowed production when carriers cut capacity during the recession. Now, they're having trouble ramping up to meet new demand.
In response to the shortage, Maersk Line announced that it has initiated production of new containers and leasing of containers. The company also re-activated laid-up container ships to assist in repositioning containers as quickly as possible (from the east coast of North America and Latin America to Asia, e.g.).
"The present market situation is unique. We are experiencing a demand surge in most trades, which is a development that is both unprecedented and unexpected by us and our customers. For example, the Asia Europe trade is growing by 23% compared to the market's single digit expectation just six months ago. Therefore, we already see a very tight equipment situation. And we expect an even more pronounced and serious shortage of containers in the coming months as we enter the peak season," explains Lars Reno Jakobsen, Head of Network and Product and member of Maersk Line's Management Board.
Maersk Line says it expects the equipment shortage to last through the third quarter of this year.