Market Conditions – The mad rush to find vessel capacity before China National Holiday is upon us as port congestion seems to continue to worsen daily. Lengthy intermodal rail departure delays are slowly improving, however chassis shortages at major rail destinations are hampering last mile deliveries. Pressure from the China Ministry of Transportation has renewed, prompting ocean carriers to pump the breaks on the general rate increases and other surcharges that have sent market rates skyrocketing to new highs, especially to the Gulf and East Coasts and rail intermodal destinations.
Market Rates – General rate increases implemented on September 15th lost momentum as rumors circulated that the China Ministry of Transportation once again pressured ocean carriers to refrain from further rate hikes. Most carriers extended their current FAK market rates however a few carriers pushed through further increases on the premium rate market, which is moving most of the spot cargo over the last several weeks. The increases ranged anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per 40’ with four digit increases primarily applied to rail intermodal, Gulf and East Coast port destinations. East Coast rates have been steadily trending higher as Southern California port congestion makes front page news and dozens of vessels sit off the coast waiting to berth.
Dray Rates Continue to Rise – National average last mile delivery costs have steadily increased through 2021, however several markets are experiencing sticker shock as of late. Regions such as the Northeast and Southeast have been specifically hard hit with the sharp increases in demand since early summer. Rates have climbed by as much as four digits for any move considered “long-haul”. What is considered “long-haul” has become a moving target, difficult to identify in today’s market.
The lack of driver capacity is also dramatically increasing accessorial costs as truckers do their best to pick up containers from marine terminals before the last free day. Yard storage charges, chassis charges and container per-diem costs accrue quickly, adding salt to the wound as shippers face further delays and cost before the shipment finish line. We are not optimistic that landside issues will improve for the remainder of the year as imports are expected to remain strong.
US Port Congestion Continues to Worsen – The number of vessels at anchor waiting to berth at Los Angeles and Long Beach has now exceeded 60, setting a new record that no port complex would like to own. East Coast ports are also experiencing an increase of vessels at anchor with approximately 25 off Savannah waiting to berth. Other US gateway ports are fairing much better with New York showing a couple vessels at anchor and similar numbers elsewhere. Berthing delays are inadvertently removing capacity from the Transpacific trade. With new vessels arriving daily at full capacity, it’s doubtful we will see much improvement over the coming weeks.