Global Shipping Costs, Container Prices Continue to Surge

Container xChange released its mid-year container market forecaster, which delves into container price developments in H1 and offers a market outlook for H2.

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Container xChange released its mid-year container market forecaster, which delves into container price developments in H1 and offers a market outlook for H2.

"As we move into July, we're seeing a continued rise in freight rates, container prices, and leasing rates, driven by ongoing geopolitical tensions and resulting supply chain disruptions. The diversions around the Cape of Good Hope and the resulting congestion in major ports have created a perfect storm, causing importers in the U.S. and Europe to pull forward orders in H1 typically reserved for Q3. This has led to a notable supply-demand imbalance. While we might see a peak in July followed by a reduction in freight rates due to easing congestion and reduced demand, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and potential new disruptions, such as labor strikes, could prolong these challenges. The container shipping industry remains on high alert, adapting to an ever-changing landscape," says Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO, Container xChange.


Key takeaways:


  • Globally, shipping costs have surged in the first half of 2024, defying the traditional off-season lull.
  • Asia, Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent region witnessed a significant uptick in container prices since October 2023 due to the Houthi attacks.
  • On the other hand, container prices remained stable or decreased, reflecting an abundance of containers in traditional import destinations. These prices have now begun to move upwards.
  • Average container prices continue to rise through May and in June. Hong Kong and Vietnam experienced the biggest month-on-month percentage spike of 35% from May to June for trading containers, followed by China (27%), Russia (24%), Taiwan (23%) and Malaysia (23%).
  • India also faced a rise in average container prices spiking by 21% from May to June. In Singapore, while there has been a steady rise of 31% in container prices since October 2023, the increase from May to June 2024 was a more moderate 7%.
  • In terms of the impact of the Houthi attacks, China stood out by a significant leap at 78% container price hike from October 2023 to June, followed by Hong Kong (77%), Spain (42%), Uzbekistan (40%) and Thailand (35%).
  • The first half of 2024 saw the Container Price Sentiment Index (xCPSI) reach an all-time high, and remains elevated throughout the last six months, indicating a strong sentiment for rising container prices expectations in the upcoming second half of the year.

“In recent months, the U.S. container trading market has significantly slowed, primarily due to sharp price increases. Container sellers in the U.S. have held onto stock, anticipating higher prices, while container buyers in U.S. have adopted a cautious stance, awaiting potential price drops. This cautious market behavior has affected our container buyer’s purchasing decisions. There are several factors at play, with a significant impact on the US market, being the impending election and discussions surrounding potential tariffs on Chinese goods. This has spurred heightened demand for shipping containers, driving prices upwards and creating market uncertainty, which in turn has deterred buyers from making immediate purchases. Additionally, the extended route due to the Red Sea situation has exacerbated supply chain disruptions, further influencing market dynamics,” says Isabella Zomignani, associate account manager, Americas, Container xChange.