Some European plywood importers report that container costs out of Asia have started to come off their pandemic peak. Others, however, say that they are still being quoted charges which one described as ‘unreal’. “We’ve recently been offered rates for a 40ft container of US$15,000 to US$20,000,” they said. “That compares with US$1,500 to US$2,000 in October 2020. It’s crazy.”
Even those who report some softening in container rates confirm they remain at historically high levels, hence widespread migration to breakbulk.
The unprecedented inflation in container charges is principally attributed to the impact of the pandemic on trading patterns, which has left containers in the wrong places, with major quantities stacked empty at ports in consumer countries.