Container freight rates continue to break records, with new data showing a further massive spike on key Asia to Europe and Asia to US routes.

Local SA Importers have been struggling with soaring container freight rates, delays, and low availability since the second half of 2020 when a strong bounce back in demand caught shippers and supply chains by surprise.

Latest data shows rates now topping USD 11500.00 – USD 13000.00 per 40-foot container on the Asia to SA route. Prior to the pandemic rates were below USD 2500.00 per 40-foot on this route with shipping lines fighting hard for business.

Shipping companies removed capacity early last year as the global economy collapsed during the first, most severe wave of Coronavirus lockdowns. But the lockdown lifestyle changed consumer behaviour. People switched from spending on services such as holidays and restaurant meals to investing in home electronics, furniture, and home improvements.

This resulted in a huge uptick in demand from the second half of 2020, especially for finished goods made in China and Asia. Internet shopping also fuelled demand for imports from the East. 

Shipping companies have been unable to meet this inexorable rise in demand. A new wave of coronavirus lockdowns in Asia has added more pressure to the global shipping network.

With the peak Christmas season approaching, demand for shipping is expected to remain robust. In a statement on its website, Freightos said: β€œFreight is really expensive, but with close to no capacity many importers and exporters are willing to pay premiums in addition to these rates just to keep their goods moving. And with high consumer demand and still-lagging inventory levels, prices aren’t going to let up anytime soon.”