As you might have heard, there is a severe shortage of shipping containers worldwide. Japan is not an exception.
You can Google phrases such as “container shortage” and see various news articles in the major media, talking about how container shipping costs have more than doubled or nearly tripled. The container shortage crisis has started to cause delays in various regions. This was one of the top news stories on NHK (Japan’s national broadcasting) on the morning of January 27. They also reported, as an example, on the delay at the US port of Los Angeles, stating that vessels that arrived at the port of Los Angeles had to wait offshore for three days before being allowed to come alongside the pier; more than 30 vessels were waiting. (The following week, it increased to 36.) This is because they have to handle many more containers than they normally do. In addition, there is a shortage of labor at ports for handling containers and drivers for transporting on land due to the coronavirus situation. There has been a significantly high increase in demand for goods consumed at home because people are staying home and buying things more. Therefore, North America is importing much more, especially from China.
Many exporters worldwide are losing business opportunities because not enough containers are available and, therefore, the exporters are unable to ship their goods. If you access articles about this container crisis, they will tell you that it was triggered by a shortage of empty containers, a sudden increase of exports from China, and an imbalance between shipping from China to North America versus shipping from North America to China.
As far as shipping from Japan is concerned, there was no particular delay of departure in December or early January; however, very recently there have started to days-long delays. Most ships are arriving in Japan one to two weeks behind schedule.
The specialist interviewed on NHK’s news said that this trend is expected to continue until the end of March but it is hard to predict what the situation will be like in April or after.
Some say that the situation may get a little better after the Chinese New Year is over.
This all-time-high increase in container price is likely to affect the prices of many things in our daily lives, as 80 percent of the products (or their parts) that we consume are said to be transported in containers in some way.
Although the situation may get a little better two months from now, there will likely be a delay in the departure/arrival of ships. This area includes North America, Australia/New Zealand, Asia, and Europe.
Now the severe shortage of full containers has started affecting the availability of space for consolidations from Japan.
Because of the shortage of full containers, exporters that would otherwise ship in full containers are starting to use the services of consolidation services (share-the-container services offered by consolidators). This caused another problem—a severe shortage of space in consolidation containers. Exporters that would otherwise ship in full containers have a large number of shipments and take up much space; therefore, the impact is serious. Depending on the origin port and the destination, there will be no space available in containers for over six weeks. It is recommended that you book early.